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Top ten things we’re most proud of in 2021.

2021 is coming to a close. In the realm of transportation, this year brought a mix of positive progress and setbacks. At Reconnect Rochester, we strive to be innovative and to pivot fast when we see input opportunities to capitalize on, or mobility issues that need attention.

Despite the uncertainty and challenges of our times, we moved our mission forward with intensity. Below is “Top 10” list of accomplishments we’re most proud of this year.

If you haven’t already, we hope you’ll take a look at the membership levels and gift options, and make a donation toward our Membership Drive so we can keep up the intensity in 2022!

p.s. Don’t forget that Mike’s match offer is good thru Dec 31!


TOP 10 THINGS WE’RE MOST PROUD OF IN 2021
(In no particular order of importance.)

#10

Legislative Advocacy

In March, we made a virtual trip to Albany to champion public transit and safe streets for Rochester area residents (and all New Yorkers). In April & May, we made the rounds to meet with our federal legislators. Among other things, we asked for Phase 2 funding to build the station that long-distance bus riders deserve. Here’s our team meeting with staff from Senator Gillibrand’s office.

#9

More Cubes on the Ground

Thanks to the City of Rochester and many other people and partners (you know who you are), we installed 16 more fiberglass bus stop cubes in the 19th Ward & La Marketa neighborhoods. That brings the total to 31 bus stops where RTS riders now have a respectable place to sit while they wait. Here’s a birds eye view from the balcony of Teen Empowerment on Genesee Street.

#8

Weighing In on Projects & Plans

Through our Advocacy Committee, we submitted written input, attended public meetings and served on advisory committees on countless infrastructure projects and community plans. We urge planners and decision makers to create a connected community with streets and spaces designed for people. This kind of hyper-active advocacy work results in big wins, like the cycle track you see emerging here on E. Main Street, a project we weighed in on in 2019.

#7

Supporting Public Transit

We continued to play an active role in what’s happening with public transit in our community. We partner with RTS to advocate for increased funding that will allow them to make service improvements and expand bus stop amenities. We support mechanisms that will give riders visibility and voice around decision making tables. When there was an unexpected rollback in service in September, we made a strong statement and tried to keep the community informed.

#6

Spotlight on Pedestrian Safety

At our November edition of Rochester Street Films, we brought together our safe streets community partners, victims of road violence, community leaders and concerned citizens to have a community conversation about the silent epidemic of pedestrian injuries and fatalities on our streets. In case you missed it, watch the recording to catch up on the conversation!

#5

Informing the Electorate

Leading up to election days in June & November, we surveyed all candidates for Rochester Mayor and City Council to learn where they stand on issues related to transportation and mobility. Questions were designed to learn about their opinions, ideas and vision for a well-connected and accessible community.

#4

Making Monroe County Bike Friendlier

We continued to exponentially expand cycling-focused programs, advocacy, education and outreach. In fact, there are so many accomplishments that we had to create a CYCLING TOP 10 LIST. These efforts are led by Cycling Manager Jesse Peers with support from countless passionate people and partners working to make our community a safer and more bike friendly place.

#3

Supporting New Mobility Options

We helped educate the community and promote HOPR’s first season in our area, and we celebrated the installation of 8 new HOPR stations to expand bike & e-scooter access in Rochester’s underserved neighborhoods. We also spread the word about the launch of Floshare, an electric carshare pilot that offers an option for low income residents that can’t afford to own a personal vehicle.

#2

Blog Content That Inspires

We amped up content on our blog and enlisted guest blog writers to help us provoke thought and community engagement about things like transportation climate solutions, urban density, and designing streets for people. We’re especially proud of our 20 Minutes by Bike blog series.

#1

Strengthening Our Organization

Reconnect Rochester took some big leaps forward in 2021. We completed a 3-year strategic plan that charts our path ahead, announced a transformative investment by Dr. Scott MacRae (pictured above) that will enable us to expand our staff capacity, and appointed Mary Staropoli as Interim Executive Director to lead us through this period of growth and transition. In case you missed it, you can catch up on all the excitement here.

Just imagine what we can do in 2022!

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High Falls Greenway: A creative concept for the Inner Loop North project area

Filling in the northern section of Rochester’s Inner Loop presents a rare opportunity to re-knit the fabric of a neighborhood that was unjustly damaged by the era of highway construction. And if we do it right, a newly designed landscape will bring new economic opportunity, better connectivity and accessibility, and improved quality of life for the people who live there.

As the planning process for Inner Loop North heats up, now is the time for all of us to be most active, engaged and vocal about what we want to see. We encourage you to attend one of the public meetings coming up on Dec 2, 6 & 7 (details here) to ask questions and give input on the latest designs.

For our part, Reconnect Rochester has been serving on the project Community Advisory Council for several years, weighing in at every opportunity to urge planners to create a connected community with streets and spaces designed for people (not just cars). A few months ago, we submitted written input to City officials and the project design team outlining our thoughts.

One thing we encouraged was for the City of Rochester to be open to creative ideas that come from the community. One big idea that’s been put forth is the High Falls Greenway, a concept developed by Jon Schull and Ben Rubin that has been endorsed by Greentopia, Hinge Neighbors & R Community Bikes. Their concept contains some stellar thinking and seriously creative ideas.

Here are Jon and Ben to tell you all about it…


We need green, direct, car-free connections east-west across the river and north-south across the Inner Loop North. These connections can intersect and converge in a Greenway that overlooks the falls and provides functional and recreational active transport corridors that connect the downtown Riverway with High Falls, Frontier Field, and the Louise Slaughter Amtrak Station.

The Crossroads

Rochester faces a once-in-a-generation opportunity to redefine our city. Two massive urban development initiatives are underway; the ROC the Riverway projects traveling from south to north, and the east-west Inner Loop North project. Both converge at High Falls, where today an “overbuilt and underused” highway forms a pedestrian impasse obscuring one of the nation’s greatest urban waterfalls. As city planners and architects work to weave the Genesee Riverfront into “a direct trail connection to High Falls along the river,” we propose a greenway that would repurpose several lanes of the Inner Loop to fulfill the city’s aspirations.  The High Falls Greenway could be the heart of an active transportation and recreational network spanning the state, advancing social equity, economic opportunities, and ecological wellness for generations. 

“The successful transformation of the Inner Loop North will create new active and passive green spaces that promote multi-modal connectivity and accessibility, while also fostering opportunities for economic and community development.” – Inner Loop North Transformation Study, 2020

The city officials leading these efforts are forward-thinking advocates of active transportation, sympathetic to the principle that there should be car-free north-south and east-west corridors for pedestrians, bicyclists, tourists, wheelchairs users, and others who depend upon accessibility. A new administration, armed with funding and an ambitious 500 page Comprehensive Plan that maps Rochester’s aspirations for the next 15 years, can now turn big ideas into realities. But this can only happen with support from an informed and engaged public (that’s you!).

Rochester Raceway: A Retrospective

The City of Rochester, founded between a series of Seneca villages, began with a short canal called Brown’s Race. Built in 1815, the “raceway” channeled the Genesee to power flour mills at High Falls and became the epicenter of “America’s first Boom town.” Rochester’s population grew exponentially for a century, turning historical Haudenosaunee trails into roads for pedestrians and carriages, and adapted in the 1880s for bicycles. By 1900, Monroe County boasted the most extensive network of bicycle “sidepaths” anywhere in the nation with the same population it has today. Industrial giants, innovators and social activists like George Eastman, Glen Curtiss, and Susan B. Anthony all used these paths for their daily commute, along with 40,000 others.

But with the explosive adoption of automobiles, a new kind of race began, with roads prioritized for cars. Pedestrians were derided as “jaywalkers,” and bicycling (still the most energy-efficient form of locomotion in the known universe) became a second class form of transportation. 

In the 1950s construction began on the Inner Loop, designed to facilitate high speed automobile and truck traffic at the expense of other forms of transportation. For a decade entire districts were progressively leveled to the detriment of newly-settled black families during the final years of the “Great Migration“. Rochester’s new automotive “moat” was largely impassable for pedestrians. Residences and walk-in businesses just yards beyond the Inner Loop margins were suddenly walled off from their neighbors. Intentionally or not, city neighborhoods were divided into two separate and unequal districts. As illustrated by the map below, the Inner Loop continues to segregate the city’s least-valued and most-valued real estate. 

By the time the Inner Loop was completed, Rochester was a national model for shopping malls and suburban picture-perfect Americana while at the center of race riots in one of the country’s greatest concentrations of poverty. At the height of the nostalgic Instamatic years, our industry was paving over contaminated brownfields and our politics were downplaying racial discrimination.

Nevertheless, through social, economic, and environmental challenges, Rochester became home to adaptive and resistant communities: activists and immigrants, schools and hospitals, world-renowned musicians and deaf culture. Today, Rochester is defined by the storms it has weathered and by the diversity that has gathered along the riverbanks. Our long-constricted downtown is reintegrating into the larger Genesee River Valley, returning to the natural forces that powered the city growth.

High Falls Greenway

ROC the Riverway includes more than a dozen ongoing projects to improve access to the downtown riverway above and below High Falls. Inner Loop North, the next phase in our downtown highway remediation project, intersects the riverway and aims to restore the original street grid. Together, the projects are budgeted for ¾ of a billion dollars. They are interconnected and integral to the reintegration of Rochester; a critical junction in a critical moment.

The city’s engineers have been examining Brown’s race as a potential portal to High Falls. They assured us that some kind of pedestrian through-path could be possible with the planned changes to bridge elevation. Also possible is a dedicated car-free greenway, which clearly aligns with the mission of the city. Our initial presentation offered active transportation considerations compatible with all of the city’s published plans. We are not architects or engineers, but as engaged citizens we did consider 490 connections, scenic overlooks, street integration, and a variety of extensions between West Main and East Main. Urban greenways have benefits beyond providing an alternative to automotive traffic – they can be socially transformative.

Establishing a fluid intersection between the river and the road would build community. Historically disconnected neighborhoods along the river would have front row seats to what would be our greatest tourist attraction, a revived High Falls district. Families from out of town could take the train to our new station and rent bikes to catch a game at Frontier Field, a contest at ROC City Skatepark, or a graduation at U of R or RIT. Residents could ride the greenway for regular commutes to school, jobs across town, or for shopping at the public market. Convention Center visitors, Constellation employees, and local students could stroll up the center of the city, sampling sights, sounds and fresh air from the falls. And for neighborhoods like the Hinge district, open access to equitable resources like bike and scooter stations would go a long way to reintegrating our city and engaging marginalized youth.

An integrated Riverway and Greenway converging at High Falls would provide spectacular returns on investment. During our meetings with city advocates, we learned that sections of the newly reclaimed Inner Loop territory are currently earmarked for high density, high value housing. But that is not the only way to increase value. New York City’s investment in the High Line, which turned the stagnant meatpacking and Chelsea districts into attractive residential, business, and entertainment zones, has recouped 900% in tax revenues alone while maintaining dedicated greenspace for active transit. From Chicago to Atlanta, it is widely documented that greenways pay.

And then there are the benefits to ecology and health. A city optimized for human powered transportation becomes cleaner, more efficient, and more livable for humans and our ecological co-inhabitants. Rochester’s river, waterfalls, gorges, and park paths blend with our existing network of tree-lined streets, bike boulevards, and statewide trails. With so many existing natural resources defining the city, we all benefit more by planning with the natural systems we rely upon.

The city is collecting feedback from residents to correct some of the past mis-steps and to create lasting opportunities and livelihoods for future generations. City Hall won’t be carrying all of the responsibility alone. Families and schools, businesses and organizations, entire neighborhoods can stand together and remain vigilant to ensure that the city’s laudable vision and well-defined aspirations are preserved.

Rochester’s past, present, and future converge at High Falls. A greenway that fully integrates the east and west sides of the river would transform the way the world sees Rochester and the way we see ourselves. 

If you support a downtown greenway, spread the word.  Get your neighborhood association to join those that have already endorsed the proposal.  Post on social media. Join our facebook group. Talk to your representatives. And stay tuned. 

View the complete High Falls Greenway Proposal

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Announcing the Winners of the 2021-22 Complete Streets Makeover

(Drumroll please…)

Announcing the Winners of the 2021-2022 Complete Streets Makeover

In July, we asked you to help identify the intersections and trouble-spots in your daily travels where you don’t feel comfortable walking or biking, and that could be designed to be safer for everyone.

The community response was tremendous, and we thank all those who took the time to submit nominations! We received a total of 76 nominations for 68 locations in Monroe County.

Click here to view the nomination locations in Google Maps

The Steering Committee had a tough task to choose from so many quality submissions and deserving locations! A set of established judging criteria helped guide us through the selection process. Here we are, hard at work examining each and every submission:

So What’s the Good Word?

In the end, we selected the following locations as this year’s winners:

  • COMPLETE STREETS MAKEOVER WINNER: Orange Street & Orchard Street in the JOSANA neighborhood
  • CITY DESIGN RENDERING WINNER: Arnett Boulevard between Genesee Street & Warwick Avenue in the 19th Ward neighborhood
  • SUBURBAN DESIGN RENDERING WINNER: Monroe Avenue between Highland Avenue & 12 Corners in the Town of Brighton
Orange & Orchard in the JOSANA Neighborhood will be the focus of our on-street installation

The Orange & Orchard location presented the right mix of community support, evidence of safety concerns, and potential for a street re-design that would create real, transformative change for the community through our project. We are eager to get to work with the families at School 17, Charles House Neighbors in Action, the Americorp Vista team, and JOSANA neighbors on a project to transform the intersection and create a safer space for the community.

The Steering Committee also selected two Design Rendering Winners. These locations might not be suitable for the on-street makeover project (because of their size or other feasibility issues), but we want to highlight them as places where the community would like to see improvements made.

What Happens Now? Let’s start with our Complete Streets Makeover Winner.

The Complete Streets Makeover will kick off with a community input session in January (facilitated by the Community Design Center) to hear from the residents of the JOSANA neighborhood about their experiences and ideas. No one understands what it’s like to use our streets better than those who walk, bike, roll, and ride along them everyday.

2019’s community input session in the El Camino neighborhood.

Based on feedback from this session, the complete streets design team at Stantec will draft conceptual design improvements of an improved streetscape. The design will be brought to life through a temporary on-street installation in May. We will rely on people power from the neighborhood community, and equipment from the Healthi Kids traffic calming library to lay down the temporary design on the street. Stay tuned for project updates as we go along!

What About the Design Rendering Winners?

The design team at Stantec will provide each of our Design Rendering Winners with a conceptual drawing of street design improvements. The neighborhoods can use these illustrations as a launch pad for community discussion, and a tool to help advocate for changes that would make these streets safer for everyone.

Arnett Blvd between Genesee St & Warwick Ave
Monroe Ave between Highland Ave & 12 Corners Plaza

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Why Don’t Crosswalks Have Stop Signs?

Written by Arian Horbovetz and originally published on The Urban Phoenix blog

A few nights ago I was riding my Onewheel through the residential streets of Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood. I slowed as I approached a lightly traveled 4-way stop sign controlled intersection, where a car stopped and yielded the right of way to me as I had reached the intersection first.

A few minutes later, I tried to cross Rochester’s South Ave. while carrying my device across a crosswalk. And while the signage clearly states that pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way, 8 cars blew through said crosswalk before a car finally stopped and allowed me to pass.

Tonight I was trying to cross another street near Rochester’s historic Mt. Hope Cemetery (final resting place of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony) at a RRFB-controlled crosswalk. I pressed the button which activated the flashing yellow lights indicating that a pedestrian is ready to enter the crosswalk, and subsequently watched in horror as 19 cars drove through the crosswalk without so much as a brake tap.

Here’s my question… why aren’t pedestrian crosswalks simply controlled with a traditional stop sign? For the life of me I’ve never been able to understand this. Let’s break it down…

If we think of stop signs as safety signals for everyone on our streets, then why is it that our most vulnerable population, people on foot, only receive “yield” status?

If we claim that a pedestrian always has the right of way in a crosswalk, why do we treat pedestrians as “yield” worthy instead of “STOP” worthy like we do cars? Why doesn’t every non-signal-controlled crosswalk simply have a universally recognizable stop sign instead of an innocuous yield sign or flashing yellow lights that most drivers simply dismiss?

We claim to prioritize pedestrians with bright signage and flashing lights but until we prioritize a person the way we prioritize a car, truck or SUV, the number of people killed by cars will continue to rise.


Arian took this to the next level when he conducted a filmed experiment with an RRFB crosswalk — take a watch below:

Did that peak your interest? Consider attending this week’s Rochester Street Films Event: Silent Epidemic on the growing number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities on our streets. We’ll be featuring this video along with several others + local data + live discussion with community leaders and crash victims.

(attend in-person at The Little Theatre or via livestream)

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Where They Stand: 2021 Candidates for Rochester Mayor & City Council

Reconnect Rochester surveyed all candidates for Rochester Mayor and City Council to learn where they stand on issues related to transportation and mobility.

Questions were designed to give the candidates the opportunity to share their opinions, ideas and vision for a well-connected and accessible community.  We hope this information will help you make an informed decision when you head to the polls on November 2 (or early, October 23-31).  We did our best to make contact with all of the candidates.

Click on the candidate names below to read their full, unedited responses. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

NOTE: We published candidates on the June 2021 Primary Ballot earlier this year, too — so you will notice some repeats.

**This list includes all candidates for City of Rochester Mayor and Council on the November 2, 2021 General Election ballot.  Early voting in New York State is October 23-31, 2021 (learn more about early voting here).  To check if you are registered to vote, confirm your polling location, and even see a preview of what your ballot will look like, click here.**

Candidate for Mayor:

Malik Evans

Candidate Email: malik@malikevans.org

Website: www.MalikEvans.org

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Lack of reliable transportation for city residents to get all over Monroe County in a timely and efficient manner.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

We would cut down on air pollution, greater physical health benefits can be gained by biking and walking.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

We need a real ride share program that targets minority communities that go beyond the pilot stage. We should also explore transportation options that service all corners of the county. Residents should have choices on where they want to work or live and transportation should not be a barrier.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

First off we need more businesses to locate in neighborhoods so that people can bike or walk to work if they choose. Secondly we must ensure that mass transit is efficient and widely available so that people can get to where jobs are.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I am a big fan of promoting walking. I usually walk to most of my appointments when I am in the downtown area. I would encourage carpooling and we must spread public awareness about biking and safety. It is still way too dangerous for many bicyclist and often pedestrians and that must change.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I would love to be able to walk to city hall or to meetings from city hall. I would also like to take public transit from time to time to demonstrate the importance of mass transit.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I would advocate for Rochester’s share of infrastructure funding so that we could have a diverse range of transportation choices for walking, biking and public transportation. Also ensure land use and and transportation regulations are integrated. This can only be done by engaging all sectors of the community. I would make public engagement on transportation and infrastructure a centerpiece of my administration.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

We would encourage and incentivize small and medium size businesses to locate in neighborhoods. A person should not have to travel long commutes for work. I have always had short commutes and this has allowed me to use that time constructively.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

We can always improve on ensuring there is adequate clearing for snow removal around bus stops and frequently traveled walking areas. I see an opportunity to engage the public with getting involved in highlighting the needs and possibly adopting a sidewalk.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Absolutely. I am very distressed by the lack of care on streets across this country. We regularly see people travelling above 40mph on streets across the city.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Speed Bumps, lowered speed limits, and regular public awareness activities. I am still shocked by the lack of respect shown to bicyclist and pedestrians. We must work together collectively to change it.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes and if we work with are partners at every level of Government state and federal we can reach silver.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

We can do better, we need high speed rail and easier transportation options. We should be able to get around without needing access to a car. I believe we can get there.

Candidates for City Council:

Mitch Gruber

Candidate Email: MitchForCityCouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.MitchGruber.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

This city has been built for automobiles. People with cars get where they want to go, when they want to go there. People without cars struggle because of issues with public transit, bicycle infrastructure, and pedestrian walkways. The result is an issue of transit equity, which is the biggest transportation challenge we have.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Reduction in car travel would foster societal, environmental, and economic improvements. We’d see more connectivity between people, less emissions, and budgets that would focus more on people and less on cars.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

We can continue to invest in bicycle infrastructure and tighten the relationship between City and RTS.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

We must strengthen our routes for bicycle commuters. The upcoming bicycle boulevard initiative demonstrates a huge investment in commuter bicycling, but we have a lot more work to do. Most notably, we need an updated and improved bike master plan.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I will continue to try and model the behavior of someone who cares about multi-modal transit. In my time on Council, I’ve posted videos and talked at length about bike riding, walking, and taking the bus. In fact, pre-COVID I walked from my house to every City Council meeting, recorded it, and invited community members to join. I will continue to do this type of work.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

When we were still meeting in person, I walked to every single Council meeting and put it on Facebook live. I will continue to walk to Council, ride in every unity ride, and always make sure that the City is thinking about bike/peds in any construction project.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I believe that my actions of the last 3 years should demonstrate to Reconnect my full, 100% commitment to the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

One of the core economic development policies that the City adopted in recent years was to strengthen REDCO and move it out of City government. The result is an organization with more flexibility to facilitate economic development in specific ways. REDCO must encourage job creation and development in the city core, to better connect people to employment opportunities. Moreover, REDCO has the opportunity to be a transformative funder for transit equity, as they will be investing into commercial corridors. We must advocate for REDCO to think about transit equity whenever they invest in a commercial corridor.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

No. We need to continue to plow bike lanes, sidewalks, and bus stops. The issue has been, and will continue to be, money and resources. I will continue to advocate for more snow removal as we went a new budget year.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Continue to invest in new bike infrastructure (Roc the Riverway, Bicycle Boulevards) and wayfinding tools .The City should also be partnering with Reconnect to create some of the videos and content that help facilitate safer streets.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes. I’ve also advocated for a bike/peds specialist on staff, and I will continue to do so.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

The City has made a lot of great improvements in the past three years, and I am proud of them. We also have a long way to go. I believe my track record has demonstrated my interest and ability to work with Reconnect to achieve shared goals. I will continue to do that work.

Jayvon Johnson

Candidate Email: Not available

Website: www.twitter.com/friendsofjay

 

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

Ann C. Lewis

Candidate Email: annlewis48@hotmail.com

Website: www.friendsofannlewis.org

 

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

Willie J. Lightfoot

Candidate Email: WillieLightfoot4CityCouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.WillieLightfoot.com

 

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Stanley Martin

Candidate Email: Iknowstanleymartin@gmail.com

Website: www.peoplesslateroc.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Our challenges lie in the inability of our community members to cheaply, efficiently, and safely move throughout our city landscape. These challenges are felt most often and most harshly by Black and Brown communities and are inextricable from questions of class. There are people in our community facing hours of daily commuting in order to get to work on public transportation. Problems like this stem not only from our flawed public transportation system, but also the inaccessibility of walking and biking as reliable transportation and the fact that so many of our city residents do not have reliable employment within a short distance of their homes.

 

Like so many other matters, our transportation challenges are intersectional and must be view through a holistic lens if we are to come up with sustainable and equitable solutions. This starts with the centering of communities that are most affected by the flaws and allowing them to speak to the changes that would best serve them. It also means reallocating funding to enable bold and meaningful changes to the way we address transportation in our city.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

When people walk, bike, run, or skate through their community they connect and interact with it in a very different way. Stopping to look through the windows of small businesses, taking a detour through a park or along the riverway to admire our incredible local landscape, saying “hello” to the person going by; these things help build a community. These modes of transportation are also cheaper, better for the environment, and better for the body than driving.

 

It is important that we make sure all of our city roadways and sidewalks are equally accessible to these modes of travel, and that all of our communities are given the same resources and attention as we improve on our infrastructure and cultivate green space.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

Bringing the most affected communities to the table in order to decide on the solutions, rather than deciding on their behalf is the most important part of any solution. Bus riders and drivers are not only the most affected by these, they are also the premiere experts on them. Additionally we can allocate funds to improve on the routes, the accessibility of our buses and stations, and reduce the cost for our riders.

 

We also need to find ways to keep our community safe while using public transport that does not involve policing. People using public transportation are disproportionate targeted by police, which is problematic enough without considering how many Black and Brown youth rely on public transportation. Equitable transportation means making sure that riders are being subjected to profiling and surveillance by RPD.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

A more efficient public transportation system is a part of this solution, but we also need to make sure that our communities have good, reliable jobs within their neighborhoods. Every person in Rochester should have the opportunity to support themselves and their family within walking distance.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

When elected, I will advocate for commuter benefit programs where employees can use pre-tax income to pay for various forms of public transportation as we move towards a system where it can be permanently free for all our residents. If we are serious about reducing emissions, serving our communities, and reducing vehicle traffic for a Vision Zero approach to transportation then we need to get serious about solutions.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I am certainly willing to take the bus, bike, or walk to City Hall. I also support the purchase of additional electric busses until the entire RTS fleet is fully electric by 2030.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

“I will support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034 through the following measures:

  • Advocate for complete streets, led by community design, that are accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists.
  • Advocating that fees for public transit be eliminated
  • Exploring options for additional modes of public transit including a city-wide light rail
  • Partnering with advocacy organizations such as Reconnect Rochester and frontline community members to advocate that policies best align with community needs aspirations.”

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

Community Land Trusts (CLT) can be an invaluable resource for youth employment, community education, quality nutrition, climate justice and housing development without displacement. I fully support CLT initiatives to further community control of residential & commercial spaces. When elected I work to further empower CLTs through public policy.

 

I also support a new vision for civilian-led public safety that directly engages and employs folks from marginalized communities in Rochester in good paying, unionized jobs. In particular, creating Community Safety Centers that would provide a wide array of services including family assistance, conflict mediation, civilian crisis intervention, and funds to compensate individuals and families who have experienced racism and other forms of discrimination. This new vision would also develop sites offering paid peer counseling, treatment programs, legal services & case management to improve housing, health care, employment opportunities, immigration advocacy & public benefits.

 

This would include enacting a Civil Life Corps to work with communities to help resolve day-to-day programs and address community needs including access to quality transportation, housing, voting rights, environmental equity & conservation. It would also involve creating civilian response teams who are trained in first aid, car mechanics, and de-escalation & conflict resolution to respond to traffic safety incidents. This plan can help create real employment opportunities to uplift neighborhoods across Rochester and puts the control exactly where it should be: in the community.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

The City of Rochester must implement stronger snow removal policies. With such snow-intensive winters, whole City blocks can be rendered inaccessible to frail older adults and people with mobility disabilities. It can also pose a tremendous a risk of injury due to falls. When elected, I will fight to make sure that we have comprehensive snow removal policies in all neighborhoods that ensure accessibility throughout the Fall and Winter months.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Traffic-related deaths and injuries are not an inevitability, but are tied to planning and policy. I support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, including lowered speed limits, pedestrian zones, barriers that separate cars from bikes, and other measures. In addition, to re-imagine transportation & traffic safety, I support the use of civilian response teams who are trained in first aid, car mechanics, de-escalation & conflict resolution. I fully support community input and influence in determining appropriate policies needed to improve traffic safety in our neighborhoods. This includes consulting and soliciting input from neighborhood organizations, tenant unions, individuals & families, and faith communities.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

To make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities, I support complete streets, led by community design, that are accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists. These may include bike lanes, roundabouts, improved, comfortable & convenient transportation stops, median green spaces, street art, and other features.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I fully support the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations. I believe that we are all the experts of our own experience. By listening to folks directly affected by these decisions, we will ensure that public policies align with community needs.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

I am a strong proponent of transitioning funds away from policing and into community-based services and infrastructure, which includes investing in alternative modes of transportation such as bike infrastructure.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

We have a long way to go before we achieve equitable, reliable, and sustainable transportation in this city, but if we continue to organize and work together towards real solutions with an intersectional mindset then we can achieve the kinds of changes that we all know our community needs and deserves. If you support this agenda, or have any input on how we can improve our positions regarding transportation here in Rochester, please visit Peoplesslateroc.com and get connected with our campaign.

Miguel Melendez

Candidate Email: melendezforcouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.melendezforcouncil.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

There are a few… First, I believe our public transportation system is still challenging. I know that we are in the process of making changes but it still takes too long to travel in this City with public transit. I also believe that our communities lack public transit amenities such as street furniture and bus shelters. Over time, we have removed more and more of these features instead of repairing/replacing them. I also believe we have to increase our active bike lanes and “sharrows.” We have come a long way since that time and I believe the work of that committee helped set the stage for increasing access in Rochester. Since joining council, I have helped improve the bicycle boulevards efforts and sought increased wayfinding, something I will continue to advocate for as a sitting councilmember. We still have a lot of work to do. I think dedicated bike lanes and increased biking infrastructure are great next steps and hopefully the East Main Street project will be a great example of what we can do as we approve large road reconstruction projects. I also believe we have to improve walkability in our communities as part of the Roc 2034 comp plan. We need to couple our placemaking strategies with our transportation efforts to ensure people have access to new destinations.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

I think it helps create a sense of community. Everything is different in a neighborhood when you have neighbors walking instead of driving past each other. I have seen this benefit with the opening of the international plaza, something that is near and dear to my heart as part of my work in the El Camino neighborhood at Ibero. In the neighborhood vision plan, residents were clear; they wanted a neighborhood that had destinations, walkability, and where they could recirculate their dollar. Creating destinations AND making those destinations accessible are both important. I worked with residents to apply for and implement a “Complete Streets Makeover” project on North Clinton Avenue. Through that project, we painted two crosswalks, bump-outs, a ramp for accessibility, and public art across North Clinton Avenue to the International Plaza site (before it was built) to demonstrate the vision of neighbors in the area. While we certainly wanted to do more with the project (such as add a temporary median on North Clinton Avenue), we have advocated for the city to add permanent crosswalks in the future. So the benefits from my perspective are improved quality of life, improved health, improved safety, cost savings for the resident and reduced negative impact on climate change.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

City government can improve transit by improving street amenities, advocating for the creation of more East/West bus routes (some of which is occurring in Reimagine RTS, such as the Upper Falls BLVD route), continuing to develop street infrastructure (dedicated bike lanes, bike lanes, sharrows, wayfinding, etc.), developing more transit options (PACE bikes, increased bus route frequency, etc.) and maintaining an affordable system for the public by investing in public transit, as needed and appropriate.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

I believe, wholeheartedly, there is an opportunity to bring some of the jobs our citizens take closer to home. For example, we have learned so much during the pandemic and working remotely is now a way of life. While not everyone has access to technology, we have access to vacant warehouse and old manufacturing spaces all across the city in our urban neighborhoods that could be repurposed. I do not understand why we need to have our citizens take two buses to work at a call center in Henrietta when people could work at a call center up the street. With that being said, let me answer the question. What I have said in my other responses rings true here. I also think we can encourage employers to help with incentives for employees. Major employers should be able to invest some resources in transportation. Training and placement programs like YAMTEP have figured out how to provide transportation to clients to employment opportunities. Coming out of the pandemic, I think rideshare/carpool options should be considered.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

With the transit center being so close to City Hall, I think there are great opportunities for City employees to reduce their carbon footprint. However, there are many jobs do require constant transportation in the field (such as inspectors) where it would be hard to find an alternative. As a councilmember, I believe the best way to encourage and incentivize residents is to improve the amenities. If we can continue to invest resources to create a more robust system where citizens see themselves utilizing alternative transportation methods.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I started my career riding a bus to and from work. I did not start driving until a year into my professional career. I drive now out of necessity and a packed calendar. However, I certainly would be willing to push myself utilize the bus more often, particularly to City Hall.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I believe in connecting all the broken links in our trail systems. I will support existing bridges, advocate for the running track bridge to be completed, continue to invest in bike blvds and support the advancement of CAMP. I have been and will continue to do these things. As part of the Capital improvement plan for the City, many of these issues are in the current 5-year plan. I also believe that there is more opportunity with the American Rescue Plan to support infrastructure projects, we are still awaiting for guidance from the federal government. So, this is on the radar of the current administration and I believe current councilmembers do see the value in these efforts. What we have to do is bring transportation infrastructure to more of the side streets. I will continue to work on all of these things as a sitting councilmember and hope to do more to improve infrastructure over the next several years.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I would incentivize repurposing existing infrastructure to create more economic activity in city neighborhoods. I believe that ultimately we have to find new and innovative ways to keep more dollars in our community and recirculate those resources as often as possible. I feel we have too many chain businesses interested in locating on our commercial corridors (family dollar stores being a prime example) that put very little back into our neighborhoods. Vacant buildings are assets and we have to find ways to incentivize reinvestment in infrastructure to private owners. I also believe we have many jobs in our region but there is a disconnect. I will work to help fix the community to opportunity pipeline, so that inner city residents are aware and connected to available options. I believe the office of community wealth building under the Mayor’s office can be a tremendous asset in this space.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I think the snow removal policy is decent but we need to improve in two areas. First, I would like to see better clearance for ADA ramps/cross walks and at bus stops/bus shelters. Too often we see people riding or walking in the street because of this issue. Second, I also believe the City should consider snow removal on sidewalks for residential streets. How we achieve this might be a challenge. I know it is the responsibility of the resident to remove snow in front of their homes, but often, people neglect that part of the responsibility. I think a policy that targets snow removal during major storms (i.e., maybe over 10 inches of snowfall?) should be considered, at a minimum. This could be similar to our high grass & weed policy.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

I believe we should lower the speed limit on residential streets to 25 mph. I have been part of the drive 2 be better planning efforts and signed onto various advocacy letters/efforts to reduce the speed limit in the city of Rochester. I also believe we should invest more in traffic calming infrastructure such as bump-outs, tree plantings, raised crosswalks, painted crosswalks, and speed bumps. I understand there is a limit to some of these strategies but traffic speeds in a neighborhood certainly impact quality of life. It impacts play in neighborhoods too, as parents often site speeding cars as one of the reasons they do not allow their children to play outside. I do believe traffic deaths are preventable.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

1.) Lowering the speed limit on residential streets (25 mph)
2.) Increasing road infrastructure such as bump-outs and exploring more road diets on major arterial streets.
3.) Plant more trees in tree lawns (proven to slow traffic)
4.) Increase use of protective bike lanes as a future strategy
There are many other suggestions in other answers that I wont repeat.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I would be. I have been part of such efforts at community tables, but institutionalizing the conversation in government makes sense. I also know that in addition to the City, GTC and others have a say and sway in the process. We have to figure out how to make these things work together.

One of the issues you will always have to contend with is businesses and “their” parking. We have to find more ways to engage business owners in these discussions too, so they can understand the long-term value of the paradigm shift.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes. I have supported various biking infrastructure projects in the past 6 months on council. I was part of the bike master planning process in a limited way as part of my work with Healthi kids. I fully support the plan.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

I am accessible as a councilmember. Reach out. Include me. Invite me. If I can attend meetings or be helpful, I want to be. I know I have only been on council for 7 months but I feel I have already contributed greatly to these conversations at city hall and have a great relationship with PPW chair.

Jasmin Reggler

Candidate Email: Jasmin@jasminforjustice.com

Website: www.jasminforjustice.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges are timely and reliable transportation options.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Walking, biking and using public transportation are options that would reduce fossil fuel emissions in our city. Additionally, residents who reduce their car usage experience greater community contact and engagement while also getting more exercise.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

To support public transit and transportation options, the City government can approve funding increases for the RTS to operate more efficiently. City government can also increase the amount of bike lanes as well as maintain the current bike route system. Currently in Rochester there are many community organizations that provide bikes free of charge to residents. The City might collaborate with these organizations to support the efforts of providing bikes free of charge.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

As a resident without a personal vehicle, by choice, I have experienced first-hand the inadequacies of our public transportation options. Often the RTS runs late or misses stops altogether—this is unacceptable. I understand RTS is rolling out new routes and time standards this year and I will wait to comment any further until the changes have taken place. Consistency, reliability and abundant route options are the most important considerations here.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Within the City network I would encourage employees to carpool by creating a ride-share network. This online option would allow employees to offer/accept rides that were posted. In addition to offering incentives to riding public transportation, such as drastically reduced bus pass rates. More bike parking options would be needed to ensure employees had parking access.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

As a resident without a personal vehicle, I will lead the community by example. I will share my experiences and encourage others to do the same. I would be willing to commute to City Hall to raise awareness of our collective carbon footprint.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I will support the transportation vision of Rochester 2034 by participating in community feedback sessions. As a community member I will be using my voice to represent and advocate for greater and more equitable transportation options for Rochester residents.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

With the legalization of cannabis in NY there will be a revitalization of opportunities in that field. I’d be sure to advocate for those jobs staying in the city core for our residents–creating job creation and sustained employment opportunities right in Rochester.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

Clear sidewalks and bus stops are a must in our city. Due to the harsh winters, this must be made a priority.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

I am comfortable with where the speed limits are at and would work in other area to reduce our carbon footprint.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Improved spacing and visibility of bike lanes.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes, absolutely. Currently community groups are established and I will work alongside folks who are already working on these issues.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes, I would support funding for the infrastructure to be improved. Not only is biking important to achieving our goals of a reduced carbon footprint, but the activity itself is a great benefit for quality of life.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

I am a resident who does not own a personal vehicle. I believe more Rochester residents would feel comfortable to use biking, public transportation, car-pooling if they felt supported by the infrastructure. We can do this!

Victor Sanchez

Candidate Email: info@votevictorsanchez.com

Website: www.votevictorsanchez.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester has a deep-rooted car culture which has unfortunately shaped the way we develop our City and the policies we have set in place. Shifting that culture and undoing the care-centric infrastructure we have developed, is a huge challenge and it will require community support, strategic planning, and dedicated funding. We are lacking the public transit system that is convenient and street/road systems that are people-focused making it easy to walk and bike as a way to get around.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Moving away from relying on cars as a way of travel will have great benefits on the environment as well as community and personal health. A majority of the carbon emissions come from vehicles and reducing the amount of cars on the road will only support the work that needs to be done to achieve cleaner air and combat climate change, both of which have a negative impact on the health of our communities. Reducing vehicles on the road would also create safer streets, and reduce the risk of vehicular accidents and maybe even shift the way neighbors interact and utilize the streets to do that.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

The systemic racism that has segregated communities of color that have gone undeveloped and forgotten needs to be undone. The communities impacted need to be brought into the conversation. The city government needs to work with other elected officials at all levels of government to continue and grow the support of our transit system and work with RTS to ensure that stops and routes are in all communities, especially those that rely on it most. We need to prioritize alternative modes of transportation, such as rideshare programs. We also need to shift our development to assure our residents can get to resources and services within a short commute accessible by walking or cycling.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

The city needs to work with businesses, other municipalities, and RTS to assure that there are routes that go to where the jobs are. The city also needs to improve the development of businesses within areas of the city and work to develop business in a strategic approach where transit lines exist. We also need to assure that there is the infrastructure to support other forms of transportation like walking and cycling.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

The main step to encourage anyone to use other modes of transportation is to assure other methods are convenient. The city needs to work with RTS to assure routes are accessible and frequent. The City also needs to make sure that any rideshare programs are easy to use for residents to get to their needed jobs. The city government should lead by example and incentive city employees to use public transportation by providing vouchers or bus passes. The city government also has the power to set a strategic plan to develop any new businesses on transit lines or setting codes prioritizing bike storage over parking in new development.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I look forward to being able to take the bus to City Hall, I wish it was convenient and accessible to take public transit to my day job now. I will continue and do more to support events like Roc Transit Day, and cycling events as well as promote more when I use modes of transit that aren’t my car.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

As someone that was very involved with gathering input for the 2034 Plan, I am excited for the opportunity to support and facilitate the implantation of this plan. A majority of my conversations revolved around increasing walkability and multi-model transportation; I will assure that any remodeling and development of streets are done with this vision in mind and done in a way that highlights safety and transportation choice.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

We have a great opportunity to prioritize and encourage the creation of small businesses through, zoning and eliminate barriers such as minimum square footage, parking requirements which can hinder someone from starting a business. We need to invest in our people encourage entrepreneurial ship through providing support, space, and resources. We have a mixture of industrial skills and innovative technical talent from our universities and industrial past. We need to be creative in finding innovative ways to bring those things together in two the new era.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I am not satisfied with our existing work, it never feels like there is sufficient sidewalk snow removal, and don’t see much done when it comes to bike lanes or bus stops. I know resources and funding for this work are a challenge. We need to prioritize streets and transit as a matter of safety and equity and having dedicated employees to maintain our streets would be a priority of mine.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes, I fully support a “Vision Zero” style approach including reducing speeds. I have been very appreciative and supportive of some of the innovative ways to achieve this vision through the complete street work that has been going on. I do believe reducing the use of cars and car culture in Rochester is the best way to achieve this vision.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

We need to continue and increase our investment in biking infrastructure. I don’t agree that painted lines for bikes is enough and want to see dedicated bike lanes that are raised or have some kind of barrier from car traffic.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes, this would be a great opportunity to partner with organizations like Reconnect and the Cycling Alliance to assure those that have been strong advocates are part of the process. It will be important that there is true empowerment of the committee and not just symbolic

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes, dedicated budget and resources are important to achieve several of the goals in the previous questions.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

We need to follow our plan and prioritizes walkability and multimodal transportation. We need to change our culture from being car-focused, we need to shift the mindset of having the need of people driving to the front door of their destination.

Kim Smith

Candidate Email: thepeoplesslate@gmail.com

Website: www.peoplesslateroc.com

 

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

Marcus C. Williams

Candidate Email: marcuscampaign@gmail.com

Website: www.marcusforrochester.squarespace.com

 

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

Antonia N. Wynter

Candidate Email: antoniawynterforcitycouncil@gmail.com

Website: @AntoniaWynterforCityCouncil on Facebook & Instagram

 

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

Reconnect Rochester would like to thank all of the candidates (and their teams) for the time and effort they’ve dedicated to our community, and for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to working with them very soon.

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“Flower City Feeling Good” Summer Group Rides: Building Community & Learning Road Lessons Along the Way

By Jesse Peers, Cycling Manager at Reconnect Rochester

After taking a bike class in 2013 which made me much more comfortable biking around, in 2014 I adopted the bike as my primary mode of transportation. Since biking short distances was easy and fun, it wasn’t long before I wanted to ride with other people. In May 2015 I took our son and we went on our first group ride: a tour of public art as part of RoCo’s Ride It exhibit. Riding in such a large group was euphoric! I knew I wanted more.

That summer I started attending the weekly Unity Ride at Bulls Head Plaza, then in its first season. The people, the diversity of the crowd, and the Unity Ride’s message – cyclists coming together to stand for non-violence and community – kept me coming back each week. I also started attending the City’s Tuesday Guided Bike Tours sponsored by the Recreation Department. That’s how I got to know Richard DeSarra, who was leading those rides at the time. For decades, Richard was the godfather of all-things-cycling in Rochester. If there was anything happening related to bikes, he had his fingerprints all over it. Most notably, he cofounded the Rochester Cycling Alliance with Jon Schull and was instrumental in the creation of Rochester’s first Bicycle Master Plan.

Richard was a perfect bicycle tour guide. Not only was he a natural at herding a large group of cyclists across the city, but he just knew so much about local history, architecture and culture that anywhere we went, I’d learn something new. It was through those Rec Dept guided bike tours that I got to know Rochester by bike, particularly the Genesee Riverway Trail and other scenic locations.

Eventually Richard’s health started deteriorating and he wasn’t able to lead the tours anymore, though his advocacy and leadership continued until he passed away in 2019.

For several years, Oscar Wilson led the tours and did a great job growing the community. As with many things, the pandemic threw a wrench in those weekly tours and this year, the Recreation Department felt it was time for a reboot of sorts. The City reached out to Reconnect Rochester to see if we’d be interested in organizing and leading the weekly tours. We jumped at the unexpected opportunity and asked longtime collaborator Exercise Express and R Community Bikes to help.

We changed the night to Wednesdays and decided to use these fun community rides to familiarize residents with bike infrastructure, and to focus the tours on the newly expanded Bike Boulevard network.

For those unfamiliar with bike boulevards, they are a low-stress network of mostly residential side streets that parallel busy arterials. Traffic calming measures such as speed bumps are installed to slow down and even deter car traffic, so cyclists have a better experience. Over time, wayfinding signage will be added for cyclists. Until this year, Rochester barely had any Bike Boulevards. Many are probably familiar with the first in the area: the Harvard/Canterbury boulevard from Hillside Ave/Cobbs Hill to Monroe Ave.

In 2021, the City added 20 miles to the network! When you include the next phase of boulevards (the yellow routes above, which are absolutely cyclable now!), the future Running Track Bridge connection, and pre-existing trails, you end up with a bike network like this:

Thanks to Stefan Korfmacher for creating this stylized map for us to generate interest and discussion. Click here for a key.

Here is the best thing about the Bike Boulevards: They are Rochester’s first and up to this point only centrally planned bike network. Whereas bike infrastructure on arterials is too often done in piecemeal fashion “where feasible” with no overall view to connectivity, the Bike Boulevards are the first instance of Rochester zooming out and implementing a centrally coordinated plan to connect the city. As a result, from one end of a particular boulevard to the other, there are no gaps. Keep in mind these boulevards cross major, busy streets but for the most part avoid cycling along them.

It’s important to note that the City views these bike boulevards as complementary to, not substitutes for, on-street infrastructure on arterials. But the boulevards in large part can get you where you need to go within the city comfortably as long as you’re willing to go a little bit out of your way. Someday the network could expand to look like this.

Our hope over the summer was to build up bike traffic along this growing network ahead of time and amp up excitement for construction. We rode from a different Rec Center each week and each ride was about seven miles so it could be comparable in length to other community rides like the Unity Ride. Over the course of the series, we were able to show how these various routes connect with each other to form a usable network. Here are all of our different rides over the summer combined in one image.

Map courtesy of Bob Williams at Genesee Transportation Council

Great emphasis was put on the City’s north side, where not much bike infrastructure is present and where many Rec Centers were kept open during the pandemic due to the vital support they provide to their surrounding communities. Participants enjoyed riding along the east-west boulevards in this area that serve as wonderful alternatives to Norton, Clifford, and Bay.

Though we weren’t able to ride every boulevard this summer, you can see how these low-stress routes really do connect the City! From our marker campaign, we knew residents wanted an easier way to bike to the Zoo and to the Public Market. Well, this bike network delivers! The El Camino Trail, which you can get to via bike boulevards, ends at the Seneca Park Zoo and the Public Market is approachable via bike boulevards from all four directions!

The best part of the series was having participants ride through neighborhoods they had never seen before. Maplewood and 14621 just west of RGH got a lot of love. To my surprise, participants’ favorite ride was the longest one with the most hills! To wrap up the series, we stopped by Exercise Express, which is situated on the Ames Street bike boulevard, for some treats. Along with some group photos, here is some of the neat stuff we spotted along our journeys:

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20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: University of Rochester

The Rochester area is famous for its 20-minute commute. For driving that is. Reconnect Rochester and the Rochester Cycling Alliance are excited to ask a different question in this blog series: Where can you get within 20 minutes on a bike?

Presenting the sixth in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose the University of Rochester Medical Center on Elmwood Avenue and are showing how far out in every direction you can get on a bike at a casual but steady pace of 10 miles per hour. This means that if you live anywhere in this green area, you can get to U of R within 20ish minutes on a bike or scooter. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory surrounding the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), here’s Tracey Austin sharing her personal travel-by-bike experiences.


When I started commuting by bike 14 years ago, I didn’t realize how much ground a bike can cover in a short amount of time. And I’m not a fast rider! It was surprising to me that commuting by bike was almost as fast as driving my car to work. And when I started working at the University of Rochester, I was happy to find out I could save even more time and money on parking by biking to work.

Over the years, I have found that there is so much within reach while biking. There are many wonderful parts of Rochester within a very reasonable 20 minute ride to and from the University. Let me share with you a few of the discoveries I’ve made!

One of the best discoveries by far is that UR is only a 12-minute pedal away from the RTS Downtown Transit Center. Even better, this commute runs along the beautiful Genesee Riverway Trail! If you don’t have a bike or prefer not to bring one on the bus, you can rent a HOPR bike or scooter right at the Transit Center. Google Maps is a great navigating tool for this route. These photos show the Google Maps directions while also highlighting bike boulevards around the area. This is a very exciting prospective route for someone wanting to commute from a surrounding suburb who would rather take the bus for the first part of their trip.

I have driven my car to work only once since starting at UR. The annual parking pass can cost several hundred dollars on up. Also, UR has recently added a daily $5 occasional parking pass so you can just pay for the days you are not able to walk or bike. Not only do I love not paying for parking, but I’ve realized that I could save time by biking to work once I account for time spent walking or shuttling from my assigned parking lot!  This is definitely worth testing out to see if it may work for you, even if only in the warmer months of the year.

There’s no doubt UR is a hot spot for bikes! When Pace/Zagster was in our region, UR had the most utilized bikeshare station of the entire network. Now with 3 new HOPR hubs on our campuses, we are well on our way to being another great connection point—not only for students and employees, but for anyone needing to rent a bike in the area.

Having my bike at work adds convenience during the day, too: if I have to leave for a meeting, I don’t have to walk all the way to a car in a distant parking lot; my bike is parked right outside my office at an easily accessible rack. And I can go for a leisurely ride on my lunch break, because I am close to both the Genesee Riverway Trail and the Erie Canal Trail. These scenic trails also provide great commuting options and a way to get off the busy surrounding streets.

Speaking of lunch, taking the pedestrian bridge from River Campus over to the 19th Ward gives cyclists 10 minute access to Brooks Landing. Expand your horizons beyond just College Town! If you have 20 minutes, you can make it all the way downtown, to Corn Hill Landing, Fuego Coffee, the Foodlink Café at the Central Public Library, and more. And taking South Ave toward Rochester City Center lands cyclists in the South Wedge for any number of restaurant choices. And that’s just if you head north from UR!

Heading south you can easily reach the border of Henrietta and all the stores and restaurants at Park Point. Take the Lehigh Valley Trail (a superhighway for bikes!) from the South Lot and follow it all the way down to Brighton Henrietta Town Line Rd. From there you can easily head on over to RIT or down Jefferson Rd as well. This gives you so many awesome connection points to cut commuting time and stay off the major roadways.

Genesee Valley Park is also directly south of the River Campus and is a great access point: to the Canal Trail and all points west, plus the Greenway Trail, which can open even more commuting options for people in Scottsville and Henrietta (that would sometimes work out to be over 20 minutes, though).

Heading east from URMC, you can easily make it to 12 Corners in Brighton and all the parks in between. Highland Park is a mere 10 minutes by bike from anywhere at UR, and taking a short detour through Mt. Hope Cemetery offers a peaceful route coming from any direction.

The Memorial Art Gallery and surrounding Neighborhood of the Arts can easily be accessed by biking north on the Genesee River Trail on the east side of the river up to the Genesee Gateway Park where you can exit the trail and immediately cross Mt Hope Ave and be on Alexander St, taking that all the way to University Ave! Make a right on University and the MAG is one block up on the left.

 A similar distance to the Susan B. Anthony House neighborhood on the west side of the river can easily be achieved straight up Jefferson Ave from the Riverview Apartments on the river trail west. Not to mention all of the streets of housing that can be accessed in the 19th Ward from two pedestrian bridges and the Ford Street Bridge! 

The UR shuttle service is also a great resource for bike commuters since all of the shuttles have bike racks on the front. So if you are an employee or student and you live Downtown near Eastman School of Music, in the 19th Ward, or Southwedge you have access to a shuttle right in your neighborhood. Check out the shuttle schedules on the transportation website to see if you could even bike to a shuttle stop and then hitch a ride the rest of the way to work/school.

There are many other points you can reach from UR in 20 min by bike, some of which are:

    • Southwest YMCA
    • Parcel 5
    • Eastman School of Music
    • Downtown Rochester
    • Greater Rochester International Airport
    • Frontier Field
    • MCC
    • Brighton Town Park

Free covered bike parking on Library Rd on River campus, more of these solar-lit covered bike parking shelters to come!

If you’re pedaling to work, you can keep your bicycle safe and secure at one of our fully enclosed bike stations. The bike stations are located on the ground level of the hospital’s ramp garage, with one at Jackson Drive and the other at East Drive. Both bike stations offer:

    • 24/7 access
    • space saver bike racks
    • security cameras
    • weather-protection
    • self-service bike repair stations

For $40 per year, bike commuters can purchase a permit to either bike station which offers:

Permits for the bike stations can be purchased through the Transportation and Parking Management Center at 70 Goler House during regular business hours or at the Parking Office inside the main hospital garage after business hours. Appointments are now required if you are visiting the Parking Management office in person. Book an appointment online using the online appointment reservation form. For more information, please contact the Parking Management Center at 585-275-4524.


Newly renovated Jackson Drive Bike Cage:

East Drive Bike Cage:

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Lake Avenue is Not Built For Everyone

Guest blog by Rachel Barnhart, who represents District 21 on the Monroe County Legislature and has been a longtime advocate for safer streets.

A driver struck and killed a woman walking on Lake Ave on September 17. She was at least the 90th pedestrian or cyclist injured or killed on Lake Ave in the mile-long stretch between Driving Park Ave and Lyell Ave over the last decade. That’s an average of nine people hurt every year in a distance we can walk in less than 20 minutes.

It’s time to make Lake Ave safe for everyone, particularly the people who live there.

About half of the people who live in the two census tracts on the west side of Lake Ave between Driving Park and Lyell live in poverty. More than one-third of the households do not own cars. They are using other means of transportation — walking, cycling and public transit. Yet Lake Ave is not built for the use of the people who call the surrounding blocks home. 

Lake Ave is built for speed. The road has 11-foot-wide lanes, 3-foot shoulders, recessed bus stops and turning lanes. These are all design elements conducive to high speeds. The speed limit on Lake Ave is 35 mph, a speed at which pedestrians have a 45 percent chance of being killed when struck. Speed data indicates that between Emerson St and Lexington Ave, half of drivers are going above 36 mph, and one in seven drivers is going above 42 mph. Driving on Lake Ave can be stressful, with tailgating, aggressive lane changes, and, yes, speeding.

A portion of Lake Ave, featuring six lanes.

When examining crash data over the last decade, it’s evident Lake Ave does not have enough traffic lights and they are not timed properly. There are not enough crosswalks, as you have to walk nearly a half-mile in one location between Driving Park and Lyell before encountering a designated place to cross. Lake Ave also takes pedestrians time to cross — it’s six lanes in some spots! In many locations, drivers can turn right on red and they can make left turns everywhere, further endangering pedestrians.

Imagine being a pedestrian or cyclist in this environment, especially on a cold, snowy or rainy day. You just want to cross the street to get to your bus stop, the grocery store, your job, or your friend’s house. But Lake Ave is not built for you. 

Despite the carnage, there is predictably no outcry to make Lake Ave safer for all who use the road. Lake Ave’s crash history sadly shows the correlation between poor street safety, race and poverty. Our culture is oriented toward the needs of drivers, no matter the collateral damage. We have an intense bias reflected in news stories that regularly use the passive voice to describe crashes. A pedestrian is “hit by a car,” not the person driving the car. We blame pedestrians for not following the rules of the road, even though drivers on Lake Ave routinely disregard traffic laws, such as the speed limit.

We can make Lake Ave work for everyone by redesigning the road. Unfortunately, drivers will fight for their ability to speed through neighborhoods, like when public opposition killed a road diet planned for a northern section of Lake Ave in 2014. There are still ideas on the table, such as Reconnect Rochester’s concept to make the Phelps Ave intersection safer.

A design rendering by Stantec for the intersection of Lake Ave & Phelps Ave, which came out of Reconnect’s 2018 Complete Streets Makeover program.

City leaders kicked off a Pace Car program on Lake Ave in 2016, which encouraged drivers to be more mindful of pedestrians and cyclists. That effort faded, but should be revived as part of a more comprehensive Vision Zero plan, which focuses on road design, enforcement and education to reduce crashes. 

Lake Ave is not built for everyone, but it could be one day, if we value the safety and quality of life of everyone who uses this corridor.

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Is It A Sidewalk? Is It A Path?

Written by Arian Horbovetz and originally published on The Urban Phoenix blog

Over a year ago, I was excited by the opening of the long-awaited Highland Crossing Trail, providing a mile-long connective path that is now a section of my daily bike commute. The path is just a part of a decade-long planning effort to create a pedestrian and bike trail that connects the Empire State Trail (formally the Erie Canalway Trail) with the Genesee Riverway Trail via the Olmstead-designed Highland Park. And while I am thrilled with the collaborative effort between Rochester and the first-ring suburb of Brighton, there is a significant piece of this trail that isn’t the traditional definition of a trail at all.

The “double-wide” sidewalk along Elmwood Avenue is part of The Highland Crossing Trail (shown here two years ago under construction).

Enter the “double-wide” sidewalk, which, for an urbanist, is like dreaming of a Trek bike and getting a Huffy instead. You didn’t get what you wanted, but at least you got something. And hey, I’m not hating on the upgrade… I’m a firm believer in acknowledging every victory, no matter how small. Just because we don’t get what we ultimately wanted out of the gate doesn’t mean we, as advocates, aren’t making progress.

The double-wide sidewalk can, theoretically, safely and comfortably accommodate pedestrians and cyclists, and can be a useful and inviting step in welcoming more people on foot and on two wheels. The problem, of course, lies in the “left-hook” scenario, when drivers turning left into this “path” are hyper-focused on sneaking through two lanes of oncoming car traffic, ignoring the possibility that a pedestrian or cyclist who has the right of way may be approaching crosswalk. This is even more of a hazard for cyclists who travel at a higher speed than pedestrians, creating an issue of sightlines for the driver turning into the path. But this issue can be safely mitigated with a few practical steps.

Controlled Left Hand Turn Signal

For cars turning left into the mixed-use path, a left-hand turn arrow is essential in protecting cyclists and pedestrians using the crosswalk. A red arrow ensures that, when path-goers have the signaled right of way, drivers cannot turn into them.

Think about when you are behind the wheel, turning left across two lanes of oncoming traffic. Your focus is on the cars coming at you as you measure that gap in the traffic, seeing when you can step on the gas and make your left. On a busy road at rush hour, you might only have a momentary break in traffic… you have to take advantage! But how often do you look beyond the two lanes of traffic to see if there is a pedestrian or bike entering the crosswalk? Think about it… anyone entering the crosswalk at this point has the right of way, just like car traffic traveling straight through the green light. You, as a left-hand turner, must yield to sidewalk users as well when you make your left turn.

A red arrow controls left turns for cars when pedestrians have the right of way, restricting the potential for conflict when the car turns into the double-wide sidewalk.

Sidewalk Signals Change With Traffic, Not A Push Button

This is a big one for me. In major metros and downtowns, pedestrian crosswalk signals change with the traffic lights, removing the “please sir can I have some more” ridiculousness of the “beg button” scenario where pedestrians have to physically ask permission to legally receive a signal to cross a road. When implementing a double-wide mixed sidewalk, pedestrian/cycling signals should ALWAYS change with the traffic light. If a car is traveling northbound and has a green light, but a pedestrian traveling northbound has to push a button for the pedestrian signal to say she can cross, you’re doing it wrong. EVERY pedestrian crosswalk in today’s society should change regardless of whether someone pushes that stupid red button or not.

In all seriousness, the whole point of turning a sidewalk into a mixed-use trail is to create greater clarity around the prioritization of the pedestrian and the cyclist. And the scooter rider, and skateboarder, etc. Our pedestrian/wheeled trail user should be able to indulge in this prioritization without pushing a beg button.

If All Else Fails, Do The “Look Back”

As a pedestrian, bike and micro-mobility advocate, I don’t get in the habit of telling people to protect themselves against cars. Instead I bring to light the over-prioritization of the automobile and the need for drivers to share the road and show respect for those who aren’t protected by two tons of steel. That being said, in the case of the double-wide sidewalk, I would encourage users to “look back” to see if a driver is about to turn into you before and during your journey through the crosswalk. As much as I hate that we have to do so, a simple glance to see if a car might be left-hooking into our path as we cross a driveway or roadway is a small and essential step, ensuring our safety. While we must continue to place the onus on drivers to be more aware, and on designers to create safer streets, we must concede that this will take time. In the meantime, let’s be sure to take this simple step so that we can protect ourselves.

Double wide sidewalks can be a valuable “meet half way” step in connecting a robust trail network. But the purpose of a connective trail is to provide those of us on two feet and two (or more) wheels a safe, welcoming and enjoyable experience… most of all, one in which cars don’t pose a threat. Simply widening a sidewalk does little to achieve these goals. We must adapt traffic patterns and signaling if these efforts are to truly be considered a viable “improvement.”

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RTS Service Rollback. What It Means and What Now?

It has been a tough couple of weeks for the most vulnerable in our community.

crisis with school bus transportation in the City of Rochester threatened our children’s ability to return to school buildings. RTS stepped up to fill the gap and ensure secondary students could get to school. Given limited workforce resources, this required RTS to scale back its regular service.

Beginning today, September 13, seven RTS frequent routes will change from having 15-minute service to 30-minute service on weekdays. The impacted routes are: Joseph (3), Hudson (4), Portland (5), East Main (8), Monroe (11), Genesee (16) & Lake (22).

Please help us get the word out to RTS riders about this sudden change in service.

These service cuts will have a serious impact on people’s daily lives. Thousands of essential workers will have longer commutes. The transit dependent will have a harder time getting their groceries, accessing childcare and other essential services. The elderly will struggle more to pick up their medications and get to healthcare appointments.

We support the RTS decision to help address the immediate school transportation crisis. We also believe this community shouldn’t have to choose between getting our kids to school and providing adequate public transportation.

Reimagine RTS

So, now what?

    • More resources will help RTS restore service to previous levels as soon as possible. We urge our public officials at all levels of government — city, county, state and federal — to support our public transportation system and the people who rely on it by helping to secure that funding.
    • YOU can help by contacting your own representatives with the message that public transit is essential in the lives of people in our community, and service must be fully restored.
    • We at Reconnect Rochester will continue to work, alongside a coalition of grassroots partners, to advocate for funding for robust public transportation in Monroe County. We’ll continue to coordinate those efforts with RTS, the Amalgamated Transit Union that represents RTS workers, and transit advocates across New York State.

Thank you to RTS for answering the call and responding to this community crisis, as they have done throughout this pandemic with free fares and emergency transport services. Thanks especially to our essential RTS drivers who will make sacrifices with their own work schedules and routines to make this happen.

There is no way to sugar coat this. A rollback in service frequency — a hallmark of the Reimagine RTS system redesign that riders had just a few months to enjoy — is a step backwards.

Let’s work together to get us moving forward again.

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20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: Rochester General Hospital Map (+ a Bonus)

The Rochester area is famous for its 20-minute commute. For driving that is. Reconnect Rochester and the Rochester Cycling Alliance are excited to ask a different question in this blog series: Where can you get within 20 minutes on a bike?


Presenting the fifth in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose Rochester General Hospital (RGH) and are showing how far out in every direction you can get on a bike at a casual but steady pace of 10 miles per hour. This means that if you live anywhere in this green area, you can get to RGH within 20ish minutes on a bike or scooter. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory surrounding RGH, here’s Dr. Gerald Gacioch sharing his personal travel-by-bike experiences.

I am a doctor at RGH and have been biking to work for the past 15ish years. I am not comfortable riding before sunrise or after sunset (despite bright lights and neon clothing) so my bike to work season is usually late-April to mid-September. There is really nothing like the feeling I get when my workday starts with a ride instead of the usual car commute on 490 (cycling is sort of a cross between Rocky running up the library stairs and a tranquil Zen master). I live on the border of Pittsford and Fairport. My route is Rt 31 to Schoen Place to Rt 96 past Nazareth to Fisher, left onto East Ave (GREAT new bike lane!) to University to Culver to Norton and Portland. The whole way is very safe and now has a bike lane almost the entire route.

Lessons Learned

Here are some of the lessons I have learned from now hundreds of days of bike commuting:

    • Pick a safe route. I tested out several routes when I started biking to work on a Sunday when roads were pretty quiet. I have used the same route since then and I now know the timing of the lights, where the potholes are, where people drive weirdly, etc.
    • Check out an e-bike. Still a great workout when you want it to be, but lots of fun to blast up a hill with little effort sometimes. I can cut 10-15 minutes off my commute when on the e-bike.
    • Enjoy the ride and be in the moment.

Rochester’s Bicycle Boulevards

One of the best things that Rochester has to offer in terms of bikeability is its ongoing Bicycle Boulevards implementation. Back in 2015, the City identified priority routes that could be used by cyclists to navigate the city. This year the City is implementing 20 miles of this network! Bike Boulevards are mostly residential side streets that parallel busy, sometimes intimidating roads. Over time, traffic calming measures like speed humps will be installed to slow down or even deter car traffic along these corridors, keeping the experience as comfortable as possible for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Wayfinding signage will also be added to help cyclists navigate. One of the best kept cycling secrets in Rochester is that you can use these routes now, even if they haven’t been technically converted to Bike Boulevards yet. See the purple dotted routes below.

As always, no quality level or amount of bike infrastructure will ever alleviate the need to have some basic traffic-negotiating skills under your belt. Sometimes biking on a major road is unavoidable for a block or two, and even if you stick to comfortable Bike Boulevards, you’ll still have to cross major streets. So stick to these general principles and if you want to get more comfortable and confident on your bike, take one of Reconnect Rochester’s classes sometime.

Biking (or scooting) to RGH along Bike Boulevards from the South, you get your own easy, private entrance to the complex! Northaven Terrace is a dead-end street for cars. But on your bicycle, just open the gate at the end and you’re there.

The Routes

This trip along low traffic, residential bike boulevards from North Winton Village is 3.6 miles (21 minutes by bike):

Here is a route biking (or scooting!) from the downtown Transit Center to RGH, primarily along Bike Boulevards. This is 3.3 miles, under 20 minutes! (TIP: Thomas Street, a great connection for cyclists wanting to avoid Joseph and Hudson Avenues, is one way between Upper Falls Boulevard and Clifford Avenue, so use the sidewalk for that brief section.)

Biking to RGH from the north above 104 is a little more challenging. Unless you can use the El Camino Trail to cross 104, as seen below, you’ll have to bike on Carter Street or Portland Avenue to approach the complex (Seneca Avenue is a less stressful alternative).

When you arrive on the campus, there are currently three places to lock your bike:

    1. Carter St Garage, where there is a locked bike cage (to gain access to it you go to the Parking Office located right in the garage near the entrance to the hospital).
    2. Portland Ave Garage, where there are bike racks next to security (stationed 24/7).
    3. Near the Emergency Department, where there are also bike racks.

RGH will soon be placing more bike racks by the main entrance. Cyclists can look forward to this custom bike rack in the shape of a stethoscope!


Bonus!

As a bonus, we’re throwing in a bike shed map of Rochester Regional’s other primary campus, Unity Hospital on the west side. Though outside the 20-minute scope for most people, Unity is approachable via the Erie Canal Trail from Spencerport, Gates, and the 19th Ward. It’s also not far from the City’s Maplewood Historic District. To get to Unity from Maplewood, we recommend taking Ridgeway to Latona to Welland, which takes you straight to the Unity entrance. Stay tuned for developments on the Eastman Trail, which will parallel Ridgeway Avenue. As you can see below, there are plans to connect these west side trails and we’re excited for that connectivity!

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The Road Ahead for Reconnect

Big developments are underfoot at Reconnect Rochester: a major gifta new path forward, and a leadership announcement. We want to share all the excitement with you!

A Gift of Great Magnitude

Many of you know Dr. Scott MacRae as a long-team leader in the cycling community and champion for active transportation as a key to community health. As past President of the Rochester Cycling Alliance (RCA), Dr. MacRae worked for many years alongside Richard DeSarra and others to urge improvements that have made our region a more bike friendly place.

When the RCA joined forces with Reconnect Rochester in 2019, Dr. MacRae was an enthusiastic supporter and made a financial commitment that allowed the combined organization to hire a dedicated Cycling Coordinator. Coming together has given our collective multi-modal efforts a huge boost as we have combined our person power, ideas and energy. 

We’re honored and humbled to announce that Dr. MacRae is doubling down on his investment with a transformative financial gift to further support and grow Reconnect Rochester’s mission.

This funding will help us continue our existing programs and advocacy work, and expand our staff capacity so we can do more and be more.

When asked what inspired his gift, Dr. MacRae shared: “Rochester has been very generous to me. This is a great opportunity to give back and honor my good friend, the late Richard DeSarra, who dedicated 25 years to making Rochester biking, walking and transit-friendly. As a lifelong cyclist, with an interest in health and quality of life, I hope to see a mature network of biking and walking friendly streets and trails for all to enjoy and travel safely on.”

Here’s Our Plan

Dr. MacRae’s gift couldn’t come at a more perfect time. A break in programming over the last year due to the pandemic allowed us the time to take a step back and set our future course. Over 10 months, our Board of Directors and a nine-member work group, including Dr. MacRae, worked to craft a Strategic Plan.

We had help along the way from all of you who took the time to share your perceptions and feedback through our stakeholder survey. Your ideas and encouragement were just what we needed.

We are happy to share with you Reconnect Rochester’s 2021-24 Strategic Plan. It’s our first ever, and we’re pretty proud of it.

We started with our destination. What do we want our organization and our community to look like in 25 years? We articulated the answer in a vision statement that captures our hopes and dreams. We hope you share them!

Hallmarks of the plan include expanding our staff capacity, strengthening our influence and community presence, and centering mobility justice in our work.

We extend deep thanks to the ESL Charitable Foundation for the financial support that allowed us to do this, and Mary Hadley at Causewave Community Partners for her expert facilitation of the process.

Interim Leader Appointment

With all this growth and excitement will also come change, and change can be hard. An effort that began with a small group of passionate community activists back in 2009 is evolving into a larger, more structured effort. Retaining the energy and involvement of all those who have played a part in the organization’s success, while bringing in more capacity and expertise in staff positions, will be a delicate balance to achieve.

We’re thrilled to announce that Mary Staropoli, MPA, has been appointed Interim Executive Director to lead the organization through this period of growth and transition.

Mary’s five years with the organization as the Director of Planning & Development and 20+ years of experience in the nonprofit sector uniquely position her to help guide us on the road ahead.

Mary will lead an all-star staff team that includes Cycling Coordinator Jesse Peers and Development & Communications Specialist Monika Reifenstein, and we plan to”power up” with some additional staffing in the fall.

We don’t know exactly what’s around the corner, but we hope that you all will be in our corner. We will always need collective energy to keep driving change in our community — one street, one mind, one trip at a time.


Vision Statement

Reconnect Rochester will work tirelessly to make our community a place where everyone can easily and safely get around, regardless of age, ability, income or mode of transportation. We will help shift our community’s priorities to place people first, rehumanize our streets and integrate them with our neighborhoods.

We will connect transportation to equity, health, the economy and the environment. We will educate our community leaders and boldly advocate for a transportation system that provides mobility options and resource access for everyone. Reconnect Rochester’s work will help combat poverty, reduce climate change, improve the health and well-being of people in our community, and bolster our local economy.

We will inspire and empower people to use various modes of transportation and experience the joy and freedom of getting around by bus, by rail, on bike or on foot. We will educate, motivate and amplify community efforts to call for equitable and safe streets in our neighborhoods.

We will be the leading local advocacy organization and recognized source for transportation facts and knowledge. We will highlight national mobility trends and ideas to inspire our community about what’s possible. We will have a seat at every table where transportation decisions are made and will hold government and local leaders accountable.

Funders will want to invest in Reconnect Rochester because they hold trust in our organization and see clear evidence of our impact. Community partners will seek to collaborate with us to work toward our shared goals.

We will work with community leaders and decision-makers to create a region renowned for a robust transportation network made up of people-centric streets and public transit that integrates rather than segregates.

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Rolling Out the Changes: A Transit Ambassador’s View on the New RTS System

Guest blog by Nicholas Russo; an RIT graduate, civil engineer, & passionate urbanist

On May 17, 2021, a re-imagined Regional Transit Service kicked off in Rochester. As a hired Transit Ambassador for the first week of the rollout, I had a firsthand view of how the new bus routes and infrastructure were set up and how they functioned, and also got to hear the thoughts and experiences from transit users. In this post, I’ll recount my time visiting three of the new Mobility Hubs around the metro area, as well as my car-free week in Rochester! I am currently living in Massachusetts, so I was excited to have an excuse to visit my old college town, and get paid for it!

For those who may be unfamiliar, the Reimagine RTS initiative began several years ago, with the ultimate result of more efficient bus routes, including three new Crosstown lines (which I made extensive use of during the week), and an all-new On Demand service. The On Demand service is like micro-mass-transit, with shared vans that can be called for pickups and drop-offs anywhere inside specific On Demand zones. There are no fixed routes or bus stops in the On Demand zones. 

The existing fixed-route bus service is named RTS Connect. The RTS Connect fixed-route services that run to On Demand zones now terminate at Mobility Hubs. These are more formalized bus connection points that are all served by an On Demand zone, as well. Here’s the map to help you visualize the new system.

The Week Begins

My journey started at the Albany-Rensselaer train station, where I finally got to try the roll-on bicycle storage service. I packed a week’s worth of supplies into my camping backpack, and climbed on board the train. Once I arrived in Rochester, it felt great to throw my backpack on, hop on my own bike, and get myself over to my host’s house for the week. No waiting for an Uber or walking to the Transit Center. I was very grateful to also make it to the Flower Pedal Populaire Sunday bike ride to kick off my week. It was great to catch up with so many people, and see how the city has grown over the past few years!

On-board bike storage on the Empire Service

My RTS Transit Ambassador schedule for the week was one for the early birds: 5:00am-1:00pm for Monday and Tuesday, then 6:00am-9:00am the remainder of the week. Reporting for 5:00am at the Hylan Drive Mobility Hub meant that I needed to plan my alarm time for the 45-minute bike ride to Henrietta with a little buffer time, and time to get out of bed and get ready for the day. 3:30am it was. My bike rides took me mostly on a straight line along Winton Road, which was eerily quiet at 4:00 in the morning.

The standard Ambassador uniform for the week was a blue RTS-branded apron, black RTS-branded mask, and a lime green RTS-branded visor. Hopefully it was clear that I wasn’t someone just loitering all day at the bus stop. Each Ambassador also received a small swag-bag with sunscreen (thank you!!), sanitizer, and information about the new bus lines and On Demand zones.

Showtime

Monday morning started quiet, dark, and empty at the Henrietta Transit Hub on Hylan Drive, where I was assigned. The Hub consists of two metal and plexiglass shelters facing each other across the street at the Wegmans driveway entrance. The shelters are enclosed on three sides, with the side that faces the street open except for a center plexiglass slat. 

For being on a suburban arterial, it was incredibly quiet and peaceful watching the sunrise and listening to the hundreds of seagulls and geese making their morning rounds. As the way went on, though, the traffic and noise levels became dangerously high at times as cargo trucks zoomed by at 40 miles per hour no more than twenty feet away from my seat. I would honestly suggest flipping the shelters around and having the opening face away from the street. Keeping the noise and fumes out would create a much better ride experience.

My home base for the first half of the week

The first customer of the morning was a recent graduate from RIT, and an even bigger fan of transit than I was. He informed me as he walked up to the bus shelter at 5:50am that he wanted to be the first customer to try the new On Demand service. The On Demand hours begin at 6:00am, and at that hour two RTS-branded passenger vans drove up and staged at the far edge of the Wegmans parking lot. The customer boarded and went off to continue riding the new bus system for the day.

I was also happy to be joined by fellow Ambassadors across the street, and an RTS supervisor who was on duty for the day at the Hub to make sure things ran smoothly. As the morning progressed, I was extremely grateful that he was there and had direct access to dispatch communications, as I’ll explain.

Connection Hub-Bub

Many of us are used to having first-day jitters, bugs, and hitches with new programs and initiatives, and Reimagine was no exception. Being a completely new service, On Demand had a quiet start on Monday morning. Those who did try out the passenger vans sometimes found themselves waiting at the Hub long beyond their scheduled pickup time, but with no clear reason why. When someone called customer service, the representative found that they were indeed scheduled to be picked up at the Hylan Connection Hub at their specified time. But the On Demand vehicle was nowhere to be seen. 

Luckily, RTS’s supervisor who was assisting us that day was able to speak directly with dispatch and the operators. It turned out that the location of the Connection Hub was incorrectly placed on the vans’ GPS units as being at the terminus of the bus routes (at Walmart on Clay Road), and not at the Hylan Drive shelters. So, operators were driving to Walmart when instructed to pick up a passenger at the Hylan Connection Hub. This was ironed out as the week went on.

Another change that was unexpected by some passengers was RTS Connect bypassing the Marketplace Mall entrance, which was where the fixed-route buses previously would pass through. The new routes were laid out to run directly down West Henrietta Road to Hylan Drive, without diverting into the mall property. While this was more efficient from a bus scheduling standpoint, the change proved to be less efficient for many passengers who were taking the bus to the mall. They now had to walk from the Hylan Drive Hub, and then halfway around the outside of the mall, to get inside. This feedback was passed along to operators who then updated the route by Tuesday morning to once again pass through the mall entrance.

Hopping Around Hubs

I offered my flexibility to the Ambassador supervisors during the week, and they took me up on the offer. Besides Henrietta, I helped to staff the Connection Hubs at Dewey Ave & Ridge Road, and Irondequoit Plaza. Each offered their own unique logistics that show just how diverse the neighborhoods around Rochester are. 

On Wednesday and Thursday morning, Dewey Ave proved to be an important Connection Hub for commuters who work at the industrial centers on the west side of the city. This hub really served as a stress-test for the On Demand service, which had an On Demand zone comprised of all of the industry on the west side between Ridge Road and Lyell Ave. The flexibility of the On Demand service meant that pick up and drop-off times were not guaranteed, and it became apparent early in the week (before I was at that hub) that passengers would need to book additional “buffer” time for pick-ups and drop-offs to be on time for work. It was an evolving situation as the week went on. 

Another piece of the puzzle involved the “long” and “short” fixed-route lines that served the Dewey Connection Hub. The long and short lines are basically overlapping bus lines, with one line running all the way to the far end of Dewey Ave at Northgate Plaza, and another stopping short at the Dewey Ave Connection Hub at Ridge Road.

My bike at a bus stop with a Reconnect Bus Cube

Irondequoit Plaza was the quietest hub of the week in my opinion, mostly since I was stationed there on a Saturday morning. There were not any commuters to speak of in this bedroom neighborhood, and a smattering of early-morning Wegmans shoppers did alight from the fixed-route buses that terminated here. It was a good opportunity to chat with some of the bus operators as they laid over at the hub.

Finally, I ended my week on Sunday morning back where I began, at the Hylan Drive Connection Hub in Henrietta. 

As I reflected on the week during the sunny and quiet Sunday morning, I was grateful to be on the ground to see how this system worked in the real world. As someone from a city so small that our buses only run once an hour, it was so much fun to get fully immersed in a city-wide bus system serving thousands of passengers a day. I’m looking forward to my next return visit, when I can be a full-time passenger on the RTS buses, and remember how vital our public transit is for a healthy and strong city.

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20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: Brighton Map

The Rochester area is famous for its 20-minute commute. For driving that is. Reconnect Rochester and the Rochester Cycling Alliance are excited to ask a different question in this blog series: Where can you get within 20 minutes on a bike?


Presenting the fourth in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose Twelve Corners in Brighton and are showing how far out in every direction you can get on a bike at a casual but steady pace of 10 miles per hour. This means that if you live anywhere in this green area, you can get to Twelve Corners within 20ish minutes on a bike. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory in Brighton, here’s WomanTours’ Jackie Marchand sharing her personal travel-by-bike experiences.

One of the many things I love most about living in Brighton is its bikeability. It seems I can ride my bike to nearly everywhere I need or want to go. You’d think with more than 50 years of living here that I’d be able to find my way around without Google’s help. However, it’s become a game. Do I know my community better than my phone does? Can I find a safer, quieter and prettier way to bike to my destination than Google can? Or will it surprise me and show me a hidden bike trail?

Yesterday, I had a breakfast meeting at Morgan’s Cereal Bar on East Avenue. I used the bike feature on the Google Maps app and it sent me down Monroe Avenue. That wasn’t bad because it has a bike lane. Then I was supposed to turn down Alexander, but I knew there was a beautiful new bike path on Union Street. I went one block further than Google recommended and reveled in cycling the former Inner Loop on my way to East Ave.

I left my house ten minutes earlier than if I’d driven, and managed to complete a 20-minute bike ride before breakfast. The best part of all was that while others had to pay the meter, my parking was free!

When I grocery shopped at Tops last week, my phone sent me straight down Elmwood Avenue for one mile to the store. I always avoid cycling down Elmwood Avenue, as the lanes are too narrow for both a car and a bike. Fortunately, that could change in the future. There are plans to extend the Elmwood Avenue cycletrack from South Avenue to 12 Corners, which will be fantastic but is still years away.

For now, I have to find my own safer way. I know there’s a small trail behind Temple B’rith Kodesh to quiet Ashley Drive. At the end of Ashley, another trail connects to Brandywine and then another short trail connects to Lac De Ville into the Tops parking lot. I arrived at Tops in 15 minutes by cycling only one block on Elmwood Avenue. Google – 0, Jackie – 2. 

Last weekend, I wanted bagels from Bagel Land at 12 Corners, the cornerstone of Brighton. In addition to the fastest route straight down Elmwood Avenue, Google offered me the longer but better route through side streets to the back of the plaza. There was even a bike rack waiting for me. It took one minute longer but was well worth it. Thanks Google.

It’s actually pretty easy to navigate around 12 Corners using the small side streets to avoid the tight busy intersections. If traffic is low though, I’ll choose to cycle through it rather than around it. All the stoplights keep vehicles moving slowly.

Now that the Auburn Trail is improved, my favorite after-office ride is to the Pittsford Wegmans on my way home. Google actually found this route for me. My office is just over the Brighton/Henrietta line and an easy half-mile to the Canal Trail. After a mile on the trail, I linked to the unpaved Railroad Loop Trail that took me behind Pittsford Plaza all the way to Wegmans. Google even told me how long it would take – just 18 minutes. Google – 2, Jackie – 2.

After shopping, I crossed Monroe Avenue to hop on the Auburn Trail. Google didn’t know about this trail yet – it’s that new. I exited the trail at Elmwood Avenue and then meandered some calm streets through quiet neighborhoods to my house. It felt safe and relaxing. When was the last time you called a trip to Wegmans relaxing?! 

In search of some comfortable biking clothes last week, I googled the bike route to Sierra Trading Post from my office. Most of the 16-minute trip to the store was on roads, but there were shoulders and the traffic was light, so I felt safe. Google even knew to take me around the back of the stores where the loading docks were to avoid the busy parking lot. Surprise – there was a bike rack waiting for me in front of the store! Google – 3, Jackie – 3. 

Examining the ride home after shopping, I learned that my phone wanted me to take the Canal Trail to the Brighton Town Park, but from there Google failed me. It was sending me on Westfall to South Clinton to Elmwood Avenue for a total of two miles on busy thoroughfares. 

When I zoomed in, I saw that there was a small path connecting Westfall to Schilling Lane in a small residential neighborhood. It allowed me to cut out the hilly intersection at Westfall and S. Clinton and cycle nearly the entire two miles on a mix of quiet roads and paths. Admittedly, I probably wouldn’t have found the trail without Google, so I gave us each a point. Google – 4, Jackie – 4.

Finally, I already knew that the two newest trails in Brighton are not recognized by Google as bicycling routes. The one-mile long Brickyard Trail recently celebrated its fifth anniversary and connects Westfall and Elmwood Avenues. It’s a stroll through wetlands where I’ve regularly spotted foxes, turtles, owls and turkeys. The Highland Crossing Trail is less than two years old and also connects Westfall and Elmwood Avenues, but then continues north through Highland Park, ending at the Genesee Riverway Trail. Its highlight is an elevated boardwalk through a forest.

Jackie on the Highland Crossing Trail

The two trails are my favorite place to go when I don’t have anywhere I need to be. I tried the loop the other day, incorporating a couple calm bike boulevards that Google suggested. So I gave Google two points for the bike boulevards, and myself a point for each trail. Google – 5, Me – 5. I’m going to have to keep cycling so I can get ahead!

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Shamokin Dam, PA: No Pedestrians Allowed

Written by Arian Horbovetz and originally published on The Urban Phoenix blog

Last weekend my wife and I enjoyed a quick overnight trip to one of our favorite cities, Philadelphia, PA. In an effort to avoid toll roads, we took Route 15 for much of the way through the Keystone State, marveling at the beautiful rolling hills while skirting the Susquehanna River.

But in many places along the way, Route 15 transitions into Big Box Store Islands. One such place is in Shamokin Dam, home to massive parking lots servicing Best Buys and AutoZones, featuring every restaurant chain from McDonalds and Burger King to Pizza Hut, Chipotle, Denny’s, Red Robin, Applebee’s and more. What caught my eye on this particular journey through the minimum-wage wasteland was the total lack of sidewalks.

Let’s unpack this for a moment. We have a sea of low paying retail jobs that literally cannot be reached on foot or by bike. If you can’t afford a car, you don’t get a job here and you don’t get to shop here, plain and simple.

Furthermore, and this is my favorite… not only do they not have sidewalks, the local signage actually forbids pedestrians!

And beyond that, I tried to see if there might be a public transit option so that residents of nearby Selinsgrove, for example, might be able to access this area without owning a car. Spoiler alert, there is no public transit option.

A similar collection of big box retailers and chain restaurants exists south of Rochester, New York in the suburb of Henrietta. And while the land use and development strategies in this area are hideously car-centric and exclusive, at least it has sidewalks on both sides of the road and regular transit access.

Jefferson Road, Henrietta, NY

Shamokin Dam, on the other hand, is an island of minimum wage jobs that is only accessible by the most expensive form of transportation. Pennsylvania’s citizens living in this area must own a car and all the incredible costs that come with it in order to access these retail opportunities, either as an employee or as a customer. This is a perfect example of how flawed and shortsighted our U.S. development patterns and land use constructs truly are.

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Complete Streets Makeover: Public Call for Nominations Now Open Thru July 30

Is there an intersection or trouble spot in your daily travels that doesn’t feel safe to bike or walk?

Nominate it for a Complete Street Makeover today!

Submit your nomination by Friday, July 30, 2021.

Reconnect Rochester and our team of partners believe streets are for people (not just cars). No one understands what it’s like to use our streets better than those who walk, bike, roll and ride along them everyday.

We need your help identifying the intersections and trouble spots in Monroe County that could be redesigned to make them safer for everyone.


What’s in a Makeover

From the public nominations received, our Steering Committee will select a Complete Streets Makeover Winner based on established judging criteria. Selection factors include crash safety data of incidents at the location, potential for design improvements, proximity to kids, and evidence of community support for change. 

The Complete Streets Makeover Winner receives:

    • a community workshop to hear resident and stakeholder input, facilitated by the Community Design Center
    • a professional street re-design that will make it safer for those walking and biking, created by the engineering team at Stantec  
    • an on-street installation of temporary design improvements (using equipment from the HealthiKids traffic calming library), and street painting supplies & expertise
    • speed data collection as evidence of the project’s impact, and
    • ongoing guidance and support of neighborhood follow-up advocacy to make the changes permanent.

To get a sense for the project, watch this short film about our Complete Streets Makeover project at the intersection of Parsells & Greeley in 2018.

From the remaining nominations, the Steering Committee will select two (2) additional locations as Design Rendering Winners. Each of these locations will receive a conceptual drawing by the engineering team at Stantec to show possible street design improvements that would make it safer for those walking and biking. The neighborhood can use the illustration as a starting point for further community conversation, and a tool to advocate for improvements.

What is a ‘Complete Street’?

A complete street allows everyone—regardless of age, ability or mode of transportation—to safely access that street. It is a street shared by pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists.

Complete Streets Makeover
Complete Streets Makeover
Complete Streets Makeover
Photos on the left show a street designed exclusively for cars; photos on the right show a ‘complete street’ designed for people.

Why Do We Do This?

According to the latest “Dangerous By Design” report, the number of pedestrians fatalities in the U.S. increased by 45% from 2010-2019. During this ten-year period, 53,435 people were hit and killed by drivers. The last four years (2016-2019) were the most deadly years for pedestrian deaths since 1990. In 2019 alone, 6,237 people were killed, which is the equivalent of more than 17 people dying per day. 

In Monroe County, from 2010-2017, over 4,000 crashes involved bicyclists and pedestrians, and eight people die on our local streets every year as a result of these crashes. 

Responding to this growing epidemic was the impetus behind the creation of our Complete Streets Makeover (CSM) program in 2018. Our goal is to bring attention to complete street design as one critical factor in creating streets that are safe for everyone. 

Learn More

Visit Complete Streets Makeover program page to learn more about why we do this, the process components, and short films about our past projects.

Program Partners

HealthiKids
Community Design Center of Rochester - CDCR
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20 Minutes by Bike Blog Series: Pittsford Map

The Rochester area is famous for its 20-minute commute. For driving that is. Reconnect Rochester and the Rochester Cycling Alliance are excited to ask a different question in this blog series: Where can you get within 20 minutes on a bike?


Presenting the third in a series of custom “bike shed maps.” For this next installment, we chose Four Corners in Pittsford Village and are showing how far out in every direction you can get on a bike at a casual but steady pace of 10 miles per hour. This means that if you live anywhere in this green area, you can get to Four Corners within 20ish minutes on a bike. Thanks again to Brendan Ryan and Mike Governale for their help putting these maps together for us.

To get us familiar with this green territory in Pittsford, here’s Flower City Family Cycling’s Brooke Fossey sharing her personal travel-by-bike experiences.

Introducing 20 Minutes by Bike Pittsford

You don’t have to be a cycling enthusiast to appreciate how connected Pittsford is. My humble hope is that after reading this, you’ll discover a new route available to you, and maybe you’ll pull out your bike for a trip that you’ve only considered accessible by car before. At the very end, I’ll share some tips that I hope will help you get started. 

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I’m struck by three things about this 20 Minutes Map:

    1. You can bike to the heart of the village—our Library, shops, restaurants, Bakery and Dairy—from pretty far away in just 20 minutes or less, including from East Rochester, Pittsford Plaza, two colleges, and many of our neighborhoods. 
    2. We have been gifted, through good planning and leadership, with a great trail system that connects so much of Pittsford completely off the roads, including the Erie Canalway Trail and Town trails that connect cul-de-sac neighborhoods.
    3. We still have a long way to go to make major roads comfortable for most riders. We have to keep advocating for safety improvements on our major arterials. Although trail connections are great, direct routes should be viable and safe by bike – for everyone.

Take a look at the major attractions we have that are bikeable in the same length of time widely considered in Rochester to be the longest it takes to drive anywhere (20 minutes):

    • Library
    • Community/Recreation Center
    • Village and Town Halls
    • Main Street shops and restaurants
    • Schoen Place shops, restaurants, and breweries
    • Bushnell’s Basin shops and restaurants
    • Pittsford Plaza shops and restaurants, including Wegmans
    • Schools
    • Doctor and dentist offices
    • Banks
    • Yoga, pilates, and the YMCA
    • Hair salons
    • Parks like Great Embankment, Thornell Farm Park, Kreag Rd Park
    • Playgrounds
    • Erie Canal
    • East Rochester amenities, including restaurants, a pool and splashpad
    • Nazareth and St. John Fisher colleges

That list is pretty incredible. Now, let’s break some of this down further. 

Bike to your Books! 

The Pittsford Community Library has not one, but two bike racks: one in front on State Street and one behind with an adjacent bike repair station. If you haven’t considered biking to the Library, strap on your backpack or grab your bike basket. You’ll feel great when you arrive and you’ll have the best parking spot there. 

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Pittsford Community Library bike parking

Let’s say you’re coming from one of the neighborhoods off Rt-96. You can take the sidewalk along Rt-96, cross at the light at South Street and take the quieter neighborhood roads right to the Library in 5 minutes by bike, 1 mile each way. 

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Coming from the other direction, Google will send you on the most direct path, on N. Main Street, and you can cut in through the parking lot. Or, take the quieter, but slightly longer, neighborhood route down Schoen Place. Sometimes going a little bit out of your way on your bike makes for a much more enjoyable and relaxing ride, until our main streets are made safe enough for everyone to feel comfortable riding on them. I’d probably take this longer but quieter route if I had my kids riding independently next to me. It would be a little longer, but on a bike, it’s not that noticeable, and it would be much less stressful. 

*Note: State Street Bridge is closed for repairs until mid-July.

Middle School Mileage

A few of our friends who live in or near the village have middle-school age children who biked to Calkins Road Middle School. To many of us, that sounds a little scary, but there’s actually a sidewalk that connects all the way, and a trail system that connects cul-du-sacs and allows for riding on much quieter streets. Having route choices makes biking more accessible as each person can tailor their ride to their own comfort level. Biking to school has so many benefits: independence for teens, reduced congestion, transportation savings, and kids can arrive to school more awake and ready to learn. This is something I believe we should be actively encouraging as a community. 

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Calkins Road Middle School bike racks are packed on Bike to School Day

Many of Pittsford’s neighborhoods have walking and biking paths that connect cul-du-sacs with the next neighborhood without having to go out on the main road, and I’ve found that you can travel quite far on these side roads—if you know about them! 

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Trail connection between Crestview Dr and the Jefferson Road School grounds
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Neighborhood walk/bike connection between Stonegate Ln and the Pittsford Community Center

Groceries and Gears

Getting groceries by bike requires a little more planning, but it is not only possible, it can be so rewarding. Do I wish there was a small grocery to pop into to grab a few things by bike a few times a week – heck yes. Is Wegmans by bike an option? Believe it or not, also heck yes. Maybe you can’t bring as much home as you would in your car, but you can actually haul quite a bit on your bike with panniers or just a large backpack. Plus you have the added benefits of exercise, parking right up next to the building, and—let’s not underestimate the badass factor. You’ll feel really proud of yourself. I’ve done this route myself, but my husband usually runs it weekly during three seasons using the trails to completely avoid Monroe Avenue. 

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Hefty Wegmans haul via bike

The approved Active Transportation Plan calls for a multi-use trail along Monroe Avenue, but until that happens, did you know you can reach Wegmans completely on trails? Check it out: 

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This route uses the Auburn Trail, accessible behind the Pickle Factory. Unfortunately Google maps doesn’t show this connection. From the Four Corners, get on the Erie Canal towpath heading west, turn right on the turnoff near Pittsford DPW’s building, and hop on the Auburn Trail behind the Pickle Factory storage building. Cross to Wegmans at the light and cruise right into the parking lot, with bike parking on either side of the store. 

Alternatively, you can come up on the west side of Wegmans taking the Erie Canal towpath farther west and coming down the ramp near the old Lock 62. 

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College Connections

Connecting young people to the village and giving them the option to get here without driving will help our local economy and give students more freedom. Nazareth has a great connection to the village, thanks to the new sidewalk installed by the Town this past year. St. John Fisher also has a straight shot on main roads. How can we encourage students to visit the village on foot or on bike, and how do we make that an attractive option? 

What Does This Mean for YOU?

If you are even the slightest bit curious, I encourage you to try biking to your destination. You will arrive invigorated and pretty darn proud of yourself. You can do this! One trip builds on the next and pretty soon, it becomes a true option, and you start to ask: should we take the car or bike today? 

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Tips for Getting Started

Short and easy destination. If you’re brand new to biking and want to give it a try, pick a destination no more than a mile away, and which will be low-stress to get there. Ex: Pittsford Dairy: access the canal path from your closest neighborhood spot and ride to N. Main Street, and then from there just a short distance to the Dairy. Grab your milk (or ice cream!), throw it in a backpack, and head back home. Once you master that, you’ll start to see that the world opens up to what you can reach just by the power of your own legs. It’s walking, only faster! Here are some great destinations to check out in the Village: Pittsford Dairy, Lock 32 Brewery, Copper Leaf Brewing, Simply Crepes, The Coal Tower, Village Bakery, Pittsford Library, Thirsty’s, Label 7, Olives, Aladdin’s, Breathe Yoga, BluHorn Tequilaria…the list goes on and on, so pick what interests you and go for it! 

School run on a weekend. Try a school run one day – but do it on a weekend. Try it without the stress of getting there at a certain time, or rush hour traffic. Do the run and see how it is, and then when you do it for the first time on a school day, it’ll be so much easier. Pretty soon, your kids might start asking you to drop off or pick-up that way because they get more time with you and like moving their bodies before settling in at school.

Ride with other people. There are many biking groups around Rochester that do club rides. You can find one that suits your skill level and interest and ride with others. There’s a sense of camaraderie riding in a group, and you can learn from other people. Here’s a shameless plug for Flower City Family Cycling, a group I co-run that plans chill, social rides for families. All ages and abilities welcome, and we’d love to see you.  

Wrapping Up

As this map shows, Pittsford has some amazing connectivity. But it also overstates connections we do have: many of the main arterials shown as straight shots through Pittsford are often not enjoyable by bike—they can even be downright stressful and scary, depending on the time of day. They will require a great deal more effort to improve the ride experience to encourage new riders. 

The next step to making this 20-min map a reality for many people is to make the roads safer to bike on. That means lowering vehicle speeds, narrowing lanes, considering bike lanes or shared bike/walk trails, and educating the public on how to safely drive alongside someone on a bicycle.

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The Expectation of Speed

Written by Arian Horbovetz and originally published on The Urban Phoenix blog

Hop off the New York State Thruway at Syracuse, head South on the I-81 expressway and you will understand. Cruising above the city’s downtown, you see the urban streetscape as if you’re flying over it, past it, like it’s something you want to avoid on your way to another more rural destination. Lost on most who travel this vehicular express route is the truth that bypassing cities with above or below-grade highways was a principle element in the demise of American cities. Indeed, the worst thing that happened to our urban culture was creating the expectation that you, the driver, can speed through it, past it and around it.

From expressways to 4-lane one way streets, we have fostered a belief that any urban corridor should be traversable by car quickly and easily, even if the result is an erosion of walkable streets and small business interests. Fast cars mean less street level activity, simply because we as humans are averse to environments that are loud and dangerous… even if we aren’t always aware of it.

Today, I was almost hit by a car while legally riding my electric scooter on a city street. The driver accelerated around a slower car into the bike lane, and missed me by a foot as he sped away in his 2-ton pickup truck. The street in question has multiple lanes of traffic in either direction, giving the driver the sense that he is in control, and that this environment is built for speed. Anyone who stands in the way of this construct should be dismissed, even if it means the potential injury or loss of human life. This kind of street design doesn’t just empower drivers like this one to drive fast, it justifies it. The design of urban right-of-ways sends a clear message to everyone about what’s important, who is prioritized, and more importantly, who isn’t. Speed limit signs mean little when we create environments where the potential for speed is high and the risk of speeding FOR THE DRIVER is extremely low.

Our insanely overbuilt American roadways have created an expectation of automobile speed, while the byproduct is far too often severe injury or loss of life for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Nearly as costly is the effect that the expectation of automobile speed and convenience has on cities, communities and the way we prioritize space. When forty-four foot wide roads create a loud and uncomfortable pedestrian experience, the shops, storefronts, parks and street level amenities that rely on pedestrian prioritization fail as well.

The impact of speed on pedestrian loss of life is clearly highlighted by the fact that while vehicle miles driven was significantly reduced in 2020, the rate at which pedestrians were killed by cars actually went up. In fact, pedestrian deaths are at their highest rate in 30 years. And as always, we are quick to protect our children from any and all potential threats to their safety, and yet car crashes are the leading cause of death in children and teens.

The expectation of automobile speed, convenience and prioritization must be challenged as we begin to realize the nauseating metrics of car-centered communities. The importance of seeing cars as dangerous, exclusive and community-killing vehicles has never been so important.

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A Naturalist’s Ode to Urban Density

Guest blog by Doug Kelley, Associate Professor at University of Rochester

I grew up doing a lot of hiking and backpacking in the woods of Alabama. Being outside connected me to a world that seemed more fundamental, more enduring, less corrupted by the mistakes of humankind. I felt empowered by the ethos of backpacking especially, that my own two feet could take me through the world from one beautiful place to another, and when I was gone, I would leave no trace, so others might enjoy the same beauty. I could forget daily stresses in favor of long conversations with friends, basking in sunshine and endorphins. I was (and am) a naturalist. I chose a college in the Appalachian mountains, and spent summers back in the Alabama woods, a counselor at Camp McDowell, quick to volunteer to lead kids on hikes.

Over time, my passion for being outdoors led to an idea that seemed surprising at first: for a naturalist like me, who wants to spend as much time outdoors as possible, the best place to live is not in the woods but in a densely-packed city center. Urban density allows me to live close to my workplace and commute by bike or public transportation, so I’m outdoors for an hour every day, routinely, without committing extra time. Urban density means there’s a small market a block from my house, a pharmacy two blocks beyond, a library within five blocks, a hardware store and supermarkets easily accessible by bike, and a huge number of restaurants, cafes, bars, and coffee shops nearby. In a city center, sidewalks and bike lanes and bus routes offer dense connections. When traveling to all these places and more, I can be outdoors, enjoying the same sunshine and exercise as on those Alabama trails, years ago.

Headed home from work on the River Trail, I enjoy fantastic views of downtown Rochester daily. (Credit: Doug Kelley)

Without urban density, neither I nor my neighbors — who I see often on sidewalks and porches — could benefit from so many amenities. If lots were bigger and residences weren’t arranged with as much density, our destinations would be pushed further away, often too far for walking or biking. In fact, many destinations would cease to exist. Markets and restaurants and shops are businesses that rely on having enough feet cross their threshold daily. Urban density puts customers close. Or, from the customers’ point of view, urban density puts businesses close.

A naturalist’s first instinct might be to live far outside the city center, near trails and hills and streams. Wistfully I can imagine myself stepping out of a house abutting Mendon Ponds Park, a favorite place to ski and hike and cycle, ready to start an outing without even getting in a car. But to gain that privilege, I would have to trade away countless hours of outdoor time enabled by my city life. Living by those trails, I’d be cooped up in a car every time I commuted, every time I needed groceries, every time I wanted a restaurant meal. RTS buses don’t go that far out. Altogether, that life would allow me far less time in the outdoors I love. Much better to drive to the trails and live in the city.

A favorite hiking destination at Camp McDowell was St. Christopher’s Pool, at the head of a canyon and beneath a waterfall near the edge of the property. But in those years, St. Chris’s was badly defaced, its rocks and water turned a sickly shade of orange by runoff from the coal mine upstream. The Rev. Mark Johnston, executive director of Camp, waged a legal battle that ultimately brought the mine’s owners to remediate the stream, largely restoring St. Christopher’s. Mark also reminded campers and staff often that though the mine owners were culpable for property damage, all people are responsible for being good stewards of shared resources, and we ourselves contributed to the damage when we used the electricity produced by that coal. It was a tough lesson, and an important one.

That lesson, too, leads naturalists to value urban density — because it seriously reduces our own contributions to the human damage of natural places. New York City has the highest population density of any large area in the United States, with 27,000 residents per square mile. New York City also has a vastly smaller per-capita carbon footprint than typical American places: in 2015, an average resident produced emissions equivalent to 6.1 metric tons of carbon dioxide, less than a third of the national average of 19. Likewise, an average New York City resident uses far less energy and produces far less waste than an average American. It’s no coincidence that urban density reduces carbon footprints, energy use, and waste. Density enables car-free transportation, which burns little or no fossil fuel. Density also makes residences more efficient, because apartments are insulated by their neighbors, and because smaller residences almost always require less heating and cooling. And as anybody who’s cleaned out their garage knows, having more space inevitably leads to accumulation of more stuff — not all useful!

Reflecting more deeply, the lesson of stewardship and the naturalist’s leave-no-trace ethos are fundamentally about equity, and urban density promotes equity, too. Beyond leaving natural places untrammelled and less-damaged by climate change, density makes healthy and pleasant lifestyles available to all, even those who never spend time in the woods, either for lack of interest or for lack of opportunity. Regardless of social and economic status, almost everybody can walk and bike, which opens a myriad of possibilities in a well-designed city center. Public transportation is more broadly affordable than personal automobile ownership. And density matters even more for people with disabilities, for whom nearby amenities are no mere matter of convenience.

Rochester, NY (Credit: Joe Wolf on flickr)

Obviously, Rochester is not as dense as New York City, but at 6100 residents per square mile, its density exceeds many American cities, including Austin, TX (3200), Cleveland, OH (5100), and even the famously bike-friendly Portland, OR (4800). Most of Rochester proper and some suburbs boast sidewalks and gridded streets, making walking and biking easier and more enjoyable. Gems like the Canal Path and River Trail connect pedestrians and cyclists to more amenities over greater distances. Regional bike infrastructure is being steadily improved and expanded. Many neighborhoods in our region are great places for the urban naturalist lifestyle.

Some of Rochester’s density was automatic, because the city predates personal automobiles. But now, building and maintaining people-friendly city centers requires conscious choices, good policies, and ongoing input from citizen-naturalists. Reconnect Rochester has made major efforts to encourage urban density and make outdoor city life more pleasant and equitable. The work continues, and you can help. For starters, Rochester’s zoning laws have put limits on density, but are now being reviewed for revision, so leave a comment supporting urban density. Urge leaders to implement and expand bike master plans. Nearly every local municipality has one, thanks largely to the Rochester Cycling Alliance (for example, see the City of Rochester plan). Or get involved with Complete Streets Makeover for hands-on projects making outdoor urban spaces more practical and beautiful. Get plugged in to Reconnect Rochester’s work so you can learn about opportunities to volunteer for hands-on projects, attend public meetings, sign petitions, and be part of the effort.

The tulip trees on Oxford Street are among the many everyday delights of my bike commute, made possible by urban density. (Credit: Doug Kelley)

In the end, my bike commute may not have the same grandeur as summiting one of the Adirondack High Peaks, but doing it every day makes it more important to my life, health, and peace of mind. On the River Trail in the morning, I see groundhogs and rabbits frequently, and also deer, turkeys, hawks, and occasionally a fox or heron. In the afternoon, I enjoy a grand river vista of the Freddie-Sue Bridge with downtown buildings towering beyond. For one precious week every spring, I revel in an explosion of color when the Oxford Street tulip trees bloom. And knowing that urban density not only helps me enjoy the outdoors, but also helps me leave no trace and allows many others the same benefits — that makes these natural experiences sweeter still. 

4 Comments

Where They Stand: 2021 Candidates for Rochester Mayor & City Council (Primary Edition)

*NOTE: This list includes all candidates on the ballot for the June 22nd Primary.

 

In April, Reconnect Rochester surveyed all Primary candidates for Rochester Mayor and City Council to learn where they stand on issues related to transportation and mobility.

Questions were designed to give the candidates the opportunity to share their opinions, ideas and vision for a well-connected and accessible community.  We hope this information will help you make an informed decision when you head to the polls on June 22 and November 2.  We did our best to make contact with all of the candidates.

Click on the candidate names below to read their full, unedited responses. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Candidates for Mayor:

Malik Evans

Candidate Email: malik@malikevans.org

Website: www.MalikEvans.org

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Lack of reliable transportation for city residents to get all over Monroe County in a timely and efficient manner.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

We would cut down on air pollution, greater physical health benefits can be gained by biking and walking.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

We need a real ride share program that targets minority communities that go beyond the pilot stage. We should also explore transportation options that service all corners of the county. Residents should have choices on where they want to work or live and transportation should not be a barrier.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

First off we need more businesses to locate in neighborhoods so that people can bike or walk to work if they choose. Secondly we must ensure that mass transit is efficient and widely available so that people can get to where jobs are.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I am a big fan of promoting walking. I usually walk to most of my appointments when I am in the downtown area. I would encourage carpooling and we must spread public awareness about biking and safety. It is still way too dangerous for many bicyclist and often pedestrians and that must change.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I would love to be able to walk to city hall or to meetings from city hall. I would also like to take public transit from time to time to demonstrate the importance of mass transit.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I would advocate for Rochesters share of infrastructure funding so that we could have a diverse range of transportation choices for walking, biking and public transportation. Also ensure land use and and transportation regulations are integrated. This can only be done by engaging all sectors of the community. I would make public engagement on transportation and infrastructure a centerpiece of my administration.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

We would encourage and incentivize small and medium size businesses to locate in neighborhoods. A person should not have to travel long commutes for work. I have always had short commutes and this has allowed me to use that time constructively.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

We can always improve on ensuring there is adequate clearing for snow removal around bus stops and frequently traveled walking areas. I see an opportunity to engage the public with getting involved in highlighting the needs and possibly adopting a sidewalk.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Absolutely. I am very distressed by the lack of care on streets across this country. We regularly see people travelling above 40mph on streets across the city.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Speed Bumps, lowered speed limits, and regular public awareness activities. I am still shocked by the lack of respect shown to bicyclist and pedestrians. We must work together collectively to change it.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes and if we work with are partners at every level of Government state and federal we can reach silver.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

We can do better, we need high speed rail and easier transportation options. We should be able to get around without needing access to a car. I believe we can get there.

Mayor Lovely Warren

Mayor Lovely WarrenCandidate Email: Lovely@MayorLovelyWarren.com

Website: www.MayorLovelyWarren.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges are:
1) Ensuring safe, affordable and convenient transit for our low-income families.
2) Building our infrastructure to encourage alternatives to cars while recognizing that the transition to alternatives remains a lengthy process. That means continuing to support our Complete Streets model and build additional bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure as well as supporting ride-share, bike share and transit services to truly enable an alternative transportation network in our City.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

The greatest benefit is the creation of community and the building of relationships between neighbors, local merchants/business and community/governmental organizations.

 

By getting people to truly think locally (walking/biking distance) we can enhance neighborhoods and increase demand for services in our City’s commercial corridors. This will create opportunities and drive investment to areas that have seen chronic disinvestment due to the suburbanization of America.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

The City is eager to relaunch bike share in our community to empower City residents to utilize the resources in their neighborhood or nearby neighborhoods. That street level activity will also build upon itself and spur creative ideas on how to enhance it both economically and socially. A bike share relaunch in partnership with RTS should happen this summer.

 

We should also continue investments like the reconstruction of East Main Street with dedicated bike lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians to demonstrate how such infrastructure can be the catalyst to rebuild and reconnect neighborhoods.

 

Also, the City should push RTS to consider eliminating fares, where possible, within its system to further encourage the use of public transit.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

We should look to all of the items expressed above: 1) Expand bike infrastructure. 2) Restore bike share service, which is forthcoming. 3) Support ride-share services and encourage operators to adopt equitable practices for drivers and riders. 4) Encourage RTS to eliminate fares, where possible, to encourage use of the transit system. 5) Support the development of our local commercial corridors, like Bulls Head, N. Clinton Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, etc. to create jobs and services closer to where our residents live.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Again, we should look to all of the items expressed above: 1) Expand bike infrastructure. 2) Restore bike share service, which is forthcoming. 3) Support ride-share services and encourage operators to adopt equitable practices for drivers and riders. 4) Encourage RTS to eliminate fares, where possible, to encourage use of the transit system. 5) Support the development of our local commercial corridors, like Bulls Head, N. Clinton Avenue, Jefferson Avenue, etc. to create jobs and services closer to where our residents live.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

Under my leadership, Rochester is one of only 43 cities worldwide to be named an “A” city for its work combating climate change. We were recognized for our notable efforts, including our Sustainable Homes Rochester program, our expansive number of electric vehicle charging stations and our 2-MW solar farm located on the former Emerson St. landfill.

 

We have also been driving the adoption of renewable energy through the creation of Rochester Community Power (RCP). RCP is our community choice aggregation program to provide access to renewal electricity to city residents at lower rates than legacy electricity sources. RCP is in the process of conducting its education and enrollment campaign throughout our city. I will continue to support its efforts to ensure our residents have the ability to improve our environment while reducing their utility bills.

 

As it relates specifically to transportation, in addition to the responses provided above, I have directed our Department of Environmental Services to seek to purchase electric or other green vehicles wherever possible. In addition, DES explores green alternatives during the planning and design of our capital projects to ensure we are leading the way with the adoption of sustainable alternatives wherever possible.

 

In addition, we must continue to implement Rochester 2034 and the Comprehensive Access and Mobility Plan that informed it.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

My administration was proud to complete Rochester 2034, our City’s first update to our comprehensive plan in over 15 years. I am committed to fulfilling this vision. The ongoing reconstruction of East Main St. is clear evidence of this work. With its dedicated and protected bike lanes, sidewalks and other traffic calming measures, the new East Main St. will serve as the first example of how we apply the vision of 2034 to future infrastructure projects.

 

In addition, I am creating a Rochester 2034 governance committee to ensure we implement the plan going forward and that decisions throughout City government are made in accordance with its principles.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

My administration was proud to complete Rochester 2034, our City’s first update to our comprehensive plan in over 15 years. I am committed to fulfilling this vision. The ongoing reconstruction of East Main St. is clear evidence of this work. With its dedicated and protected bike lanes, sidewalks and other traffic calming measures, the new East Main St. will serve as the first example of how we apply the vision of 2034 to future infrastructure projects.

 

In addition, I am creating a Rochester 2034 governance committee to ensure we implement the plan going forward and that decisions throughout City government are made in accordance with its principles.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

No. There is more work to be done. However, it can’t be done by City government alone. We need partnerships with our businesses and community organizations. And, we need our residents to take responsibility where they can.

 

I am committed to exploring how to implement the following items from Rochester 2034; including:

  • Prioritizing facilities according to higher levels of non-automobile traffic, such as mixed-use corridors, bus stops, routes to employment centers frequented by those who cannot or choose not to drive, key trail segments, and areas around large residential buildings.
  • Creating partnerships with other entities to work together on snow removal.
  • Researching equipment and technology available to more effectively construct and treat the surfaces of sidewalks and bicycle routes.

However, despite the need to do more and the partnerships necessary, it is important to note that Rochester is the only upstate city with an extensive sidewalk plowing program that occurs when there are more than four inches of snowfall. This long-standing effort continues to require a great deal of funding and resources and I remain committed to it.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes!

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

We need to continue to design and build projects like the reconstruction of East Main St. with dedicated and protected bike lanes and sidewalks. We need to install additional traffic calming measures throughout the city and fully embrace all of the tenets of our Rochester 2034 comprehensive plan.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes. I envision this as part of our ongoing Rochester 2034 governance committee discussed above.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

I support continuing to build out our bike infrastructure as envisioned in our Rochester 2034 and associated CAMP, as well as, demonstrated by our East Main Street reconstruction and other infrastructure projects.
As you likely know, physical infrastructure, including bike infrastructure is typically funded with capital dollars and not operating funds. Therefore, I support the consistent and annual inclusion of such projects in our Capital Improvement Program and Capital Budget, along with the appropriate operating budget expenditures for maintenance and repair of such infrastructure.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

As I have shared throughout my responses, I am proud that my administration proposed, funded and completed our Rochester 2034 Comprehensive Plan, including the CAMP. In addition, I am glad we have shown our commitment to making these plans a reality via projects like the reconstruction of East Main Street. Prior to my administration, many of these ideas were proposed, but never realized. I am glad that together, with the support of our community we have made real progress in promoting walking, biking and other transportation alternatives. I understand there is more work to be done and there is more for me to learn. However, I know that I have worked in good faith to achieve these goals and would be honored by the opportunity to continue to work with you.

Candidates for City Council:

Luis Aponte

Candidate Email: Luisaaponte124@gmail.com

Website: www.facebook.com/LuisAponte4CityCouncil/

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Lack of routine financial support and city, county, and state educational programming.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

One of the advantages is that it would have a huge impact on a person’s physical health. I also feel that by getting people out of their cars, it would give them an opportunity to actually see the assets of the community. With pandemic rules loosening slightly, I have witnessed many people taking advantage of not needing to find parking and visiting restaurants that have outdoor seating. People have a bigger tendency to visit local shops and may even help expand ridership amongst youth and children. Most novice riders usually are safe riders and I bet they will be more than willing to create some type of “community riding” programs.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

I feel that the city should make a budgetary line item for the promotion of a “safe riding’ program. Maybe it can be started through the City Recreation Department, and involve some type of partnerships with local bike enthusiast and bike shops. Many children in our poorer neighborhoods either don’t have bicycles or a safe place to ride. We need to get the right people at the table to brainstorm about how a system can be created. I think that having to apply for grant funding yearly makes some of the work already done not sustainable. We need to find funding by having the city and county leadership share the expenses.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

I think that the city should create a program with employers and RTS to give monthly stipends so that during inclement weather people could afford to get to work. The city may also do partnerships with businesses that ask employees to carpool. The city took the initiative to help transport people to a casino that was out of the county, so I think we should invest the same type of ideology to doing things within the city limits.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Obviously I didn’t read all the questions first, because I feel I added some ideas to some of the other questions. At the end of the day, things have to be made affordable. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! In doing a little research, other cities gave tax breaks to employees that took the bus or rode bikes to work. First step would be for the city to use all of its resources to promote bicycling. Supporting the grassroot neighborhood associations may also help build an inner city biking community.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

Educating the community on options available to them and showing price comparisons on how much they can save may be an incentive for some. With the price of parking downtown, I don’t know how people afford to park downtown daily. My sister in law and her friends all carpool together and work downtown, they have done it for years. I am lucky enough to work close to home and sciatica prohibits me from walking long distances. I have grown fond of taking a train to Albany vs driving.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I feel that there has to be specific funding to help support the vision. Funding should include not only painting lanes in the road. Transportation studies need to be done to truly create safe riding lanes. We are blessed with the Genesee Water Ways and paths throughout the city/county. We need to continue supporting and creating new safe bike paths and an intermodal transportation center.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I would like to see new legislation that would help streamline the laws to get vacant and abandoned property issues resolved quicker. All proposals in regards to land use should always be presented to neighborhood residents for debate-approvals. Our city is rich in labor unions and a school district that is suffering. I am a supporter and a product of high school co-op programs that gave youth HOPE of having a good paying job and future after graduation. We must invest in our youth and the school district’s bright stars. Many will hopefully go on to become city home owners and becoming vested in their neighborhoods.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I am not satisfied with the current processes used. I usually end up repairing my front lawn in spring because of damages rendered by the tractors. The front of my home is a bus stop for young children which is usually has to be cleaned in the morning by members of my family. I feel that there needs to be better equipment used and the job should be done by city employees so that there is a better accountability.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

The city has used some of these practices already across the city. Changing two lane roads into single lanes with bike paths is a good start. Curb cutouts and “curb appeal” also seems to slow down traffic. I do support the approach, but more needs to be done. To me, safety will always be key.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

I feel that we must enforce the laws we have currently on the books, and maybe look into creating new legislation that may bring funding for enhancing street lighting. City forestry should also travel around the city to make sure tree limbs are not hindering lighting. Even with crosswalks and signage, it seems that some major intersections are horrendously unsafe. We need to do routine PSAs to remind motorist/pedestrians on the rules of the road. I would love to see the rails to trails program revisited to see if some of the areas could be paved like the areas near the canals.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I truly feel that this can be very exciting for residents that love cycling. Giving community members some ownership to programs like this would enhance many relationships, and may actually be a huge selling point for living in certain neighborhoods.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

This was my answer to one of the other questions. I must be honest, I thought we already had one that was run poorly! In order for this to grow and be successful, it needs to be funded and must have leadership that is passionate about the project.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

Compared to where we were even 5 years ago, I feel that we have done some strides in certain areas. I wish we would have made one huge transportation hub which included rail and busing. I feel we missed the mark on putting the RTS station where it is. I always felt that the bike lane markings should have been reflective in some way for the safety of bicyclist. I would like to see yearly “bike rodeos” where kids could get free helmets and rider education. Including bike giveaways would be great in a event like that. Just some of my thoughts. As a paramedic, I have seen many severe injuries due to lack of bike education and head injuries.

I would like to say Thank You for the opportunity to earn your support. These questions actually made me think more about transportation safety. Please feel free to reach me with any questions or clarification.

Leticia D. Astacio

Candidate Email: astaciolaw@gmail.com

 

After several follow-up attempts, we did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Mitch Gruber

Candidate Email: MitchForCityCouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.MitchGruber.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

This city has been built for automobiles. People with cars get where they want to go, when they want to go there. People without cars struggle because of issues with public transit, bicycle infrastructure, and pedestrian walkways. The result is an issue of transit equity, which is the biggest transportation challenge we have.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Reduction in car travel would foster societal, environmental, and economic improvements. We’d see more connectivity between people, less emissions, and budgets that would focus more on people and less on cars.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

We can continue to invest in bicycle infrastructure and tighten the relationship between City and RTS.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

We must strengthen our routes for bicycle commuters. The upcoming bicycle boulevard initiative demonstrates a huge investment in commuter bicycling, but we have a lot more work to do. Most notably, we need an updated and improved bike master plan.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I will continue to try and model the behavior of someone who cares about multi-modal transit. In my time on Council, I’ve posted videos and talked at length about bike riding, walking, and taking the bus. In fact, pre-COVID I walked from my house to every City Council meeting, recorded it, and invited community members to join. I will continue to do this type of work.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

When we were still meeting in person, I walked to every single Council meeting and put it on Facebook live. I will continue to walk to Council, ride in every unity ride, and always make sure that the City is thinking about bike/peds in any construction project.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I believe that my actions of the last 3 years should demonstrate to Reconnect my full, 100% commitment to the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

One of the core economic development policies that the City adopted in recent years was to strengthen REDCO and move it out of City government. The result is an organization with more flexibility to facilitate economic development in specific ways. REDCO must encourage job creation and development in the city core, to better connect people to employment opportunities. Moreover, REDCO has the opportunity to be a transformative funder for transit equity, as they will be investing into commercial corridors. We must advocate for REDCO to think about transit equity whenever they invest in a commercial corridor.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

No. We need to continue to plow bike lanes, sidewalks, and bus stops. The issue has been, and will continue to be, money and resources. I will continue to advocate for more snow removal as we went a new budget year.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Continue to invest in new bike infrastructure (Roc the Riverway, Bicycle Boulevards) and wayfinding tools .The City should also be partnering with Reconnect to create some of the videos and content that help facilitate safer streets.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes. I’ve also advocated for a bike/peds specialist on staff, and I will continue to do so.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

The City has made a lot of great improvements in the past three years, and I am proud of them. We also have a long way to go. I believe my track record has demonstrated my interest and ability to work with Reconnect to achieve shared goals. I will continue to do that work.

Anthony Hall, Jr.

Candidate Email: hallforcitycouncil@yahoo.com

Website: www.facebook.com/AnthonyHallforRochesterCityCouncil

 

This candidate declined to participate in the questionnaire.

 

 

 

 

 

Brittan Hardgers

Candidate Email: bhardgers4council@gmail.com

Website: www.peoplesslateroc.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester City residents deserve a public transportation system that is affordable, safe, has accommodating schedules and is structured by location that they can get to their chosen destination with ease. Scheduling and location of stops makes it extremely difficult for residents to get to their jobs, especially outside of City limits.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Reducing each resident’s and our city’s carbon footprint is invaluable to our city’s future. And we live in a City that experiences extreme poverty especially within our Black and Brown community. Providing affordable and accessible alternative modes of transportation isn’t just a benefit to our City, it is a necessity to many Rochesterians’ who can’t navigate the City any other way.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

Make sure that our communities are always the number one priority in our decision making. They also should be working closely with the county to make sure Rochesterians’ needs are met when using public transportation to access locations outside of the city.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

Increase stops, expand schedules and ensure that Rochestarian’s are able to access jobs outside of the city limits.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Support businesses who work to provide incentives for their employees to encourage alternative transportation.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I commit to fighting to extend routes, schedules and making public transportation more accessible for us all. With those aspects in place I certainly am willing to participate in the same transportation alternatives that we are encouraging the community to utilize.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I support the study of how best we can serve underserved and marginalized populations within our community. Creating not just a utopian vision of Rochester, but a practical, substantial plan to make the average Rochesterians’ life better, easier and more successful. The elements that include assessment and implementation of providing economically beneficial options that also will benefit the environmental impact upon our world will have my full support.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I will support land use and economic development policies that encourage responsible business growth and economic growth without sacrificing the green standards and clean living that will sustain our community for generations.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

My Grandmother utilizes a walker to help her get around. Every winter, I worry about her ability to navigate the sidewalks safely. I was raised by my Grandmother. She saved my life and it was her that first taught me the importance of rallying and visiting legislatures and leadership to advocate for those most vulnerable in our community. Now is my opportunity to advocate for her and the rest of my elders to make sure their needs are met. I would love to see a more comprehensive plan to make sure that the streets, bus stops and sidewalks are clear and safe in all weather for our youth and elders.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes I do. All Black Lives Matter and we can’t afford to lose one more life for any reason. If there are inexpensive and feasible ways to make small changes in traffic and transportation that can save lives, there is every reason to make those adjustments.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

The increase of bike lanes to provide bicyclists a safe and convenient lane to ride.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I believe that we are all the experts of our own experience. By listening to the voices of those amongst us who are most affected by the decisions we make, we ensure that they make sense and are providing people what they actually want and need.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

By defunding the RPD and reallocating funds to various types of community programming, services and infrastructure changes, quality of life would most certainly improve for our city residents.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

Jonathan W. Hardin

Candidate Email: mrjhardin@yahoo.com

Website: www.jonathanhardin.nationbuilder.com

 

After several follow-up attempts, we did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Jazzmyn Ivery-Robinson

Candidate Email: jazzforcitycouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.jazzmynivery.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Although there are various transportation challenges that Rochester struggles with, I believe a large challenge is the way in which the City of Rochester provides transportation options for individuals with disabilities.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

The top benefit for utilizing additional travel is an increase in mental and physical health.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

I believe that the city can work with RTS and other transportation services to all same day rides that allows for individuals with disabilities the ability to travel with reliability and the option to travel beyond Monroe County. I also believe in expanding the Uber services here to UberWAV which will allow for an additional alternative to an affordable wheelchair accessible vehicle.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

Advocating for and reallocating funds to expanding transportation services, increase bike lanes throughout the City of Rochester, and expanding employment opportunities throughout the city and closer to bus routes to allow for ease of access and less commute time.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Increasing education relating to transportation options. By talking with residents we can examine any hesitations that individuals may have and provide solution options. I will advocate to expand current transportation and bring new transportation options to the City of Rochester.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I am not a stranger to using the bus system to City Hall. While a student in the Urban-Suburban program I had to utilize the RTS system to get from my home in the city to Pittsford Mendon. Throughout college I utilized the bus system provided by RIT, walked, or biked. I believe that we all can play a role in reducing our transportation carbon footprint. I would encourage the community to examine their personal needs, health, etc. and whenever they can to use an alternative method than a car. However, if a car is needed I would encourage carpooling, staying up to date on service maintenance, etc.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

If elected, I will support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034 by holding myself and accountable and my colleagues accountable in ensuring that we deliver on what has been laid out in the plan to ensure that we are providing a community where all residents can prosper.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I support a transit oriented development model. I believe in mixed use communities and while creating at minimum living wage jobs, affordable housing, grocery stores, etc. that are close to the bus terminal and within walking distance.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I believe that there is always room for improvement. Right now according to the City of Rochester website residents are required to remove the snow in front of their homes when the snow is less than 4 inches. I believe there is an opportunity to reallocate funds for the removal of snow by city employees when the snow is less than 4 inches as this will help not only walkers, bikers, but also individuals within wheelchairs.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

I am a supporter in expanding bike lanes throughout the City.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

Willie J. Lightfoot

Candidate Email: WillieLightfoot4CityCouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.WillieLightfoot.com

 

We did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Stanley Martin

Candidate Email: Iknowstanleymartin@gmail.com

Website: www.peoplesslateroc.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Our challenges lie in the inability of our community members to cheaply, efficiently, and safely move throughout our city landscape. These challenges are felt most often and most harshly by Black and Brown communities and are inextricable from questions of class. There are people in our community facing hours of daily commuting in order to get to work on public transportation. Problems like this stem not only from our flawed public transportation system, but also the inaccessibility of walking and biking as reliable transportation and the fact that so many of our city residents do not have reliable employment within a short distance of their homes.

 

Like so many other matters, our transportation challenges are intersectional and must be view through a holistic lens if we are to come up with sustainable and equitable solutions. This starts with the centering of communities that are most affected by the flaws and allowing them to speak to the changes that would best serve them. It also means reallocating funding to enable bold and meaningful changes to the way we address transportation in our city.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

When people walk, bike, run, or skate through their community they connect and interact with it in a very different way. Stopping to look through the windows of small businesses, taking a detour through a park or along the riverway to admire our incredible local landscape, saying “hello” to the person going by; these things help build a community. These modes of transportation are also cheaper, better for the environment, and better for the body than driving.

 

It is important that we make sure all of our city roadways and sidewalks are equally accessible to these modes of travel, and that all of our communities are given the same resources and attention as we improve on our infrastructure and cultivate green space.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

Bringing the most affected communities to the table in order to decide on the solutions, rather than deciding on their behalf is the most important part of any solution. Bus riders and drivers are not only the most affected by these, they are also the premiere experts on them. Additionally we can allocate funds to improve on the routes, the accessibility of our buses and stations, and reduce the cost for our riders.

 

We also need to find ways to keep our community safe while using public transport that does not involve policing. People using public transportation are disproportionate targeted by police, which is problematic enough without considering how many Black and Brown youth rely on public transportation. Equitable transportation means making sure that riders are being subjected to profiling and surveillance by RPD.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

A more efficient public transportation system is a part of this solution, but we also need to make sure that our communities have good, reliable jobs within their neighborhoods. Every person in Rochester should have the opportunity to support themselves and their family within walking distance.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

When elected, I will advocate for commuter benefit programs where employees can use pre-tax income to pay for various forms of public transportation as we move towards a system where it can be permanently free for all our residents. If we are serious about reducing emissions, serving our communities, and reducing vehicle traffic for a Vision Zero approach to transportation then we need to get serious about solutions.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I am certainly willing to take the bus, bike, or walk to City Hall. I also support the purchase of additional electric busses until the entire RTS fleet is fully electric by 2030.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

“I will support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034 through the following measures:

  • Advocate for complete streets, led by community design, that are accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists.
  • Advocating that fees for public transit be eliminated
  • Exploring options for additional modes of public transit including a city-wide light rail
  • Partnering with advocacy organizations such as Reconnect Rochester and frontline community members to advocate that policies best align with community needs aspirations.”

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

Community Land Trusts (CLT) can be an invaluable resource for youth employment, community education, quality nutrition, climate justice and housing development without displacement. I fully support CLT initiatives to further community control of residential & commercial spaces. When elected I work to further empower CLTs through public policy.

 

I also support a new vision for civilian-led public safety that directly engages and employs folks from marginalized communities in Rochester in good paying, unionized jobs. In particular, creating Community Safety Centers that would provide a wide array of services including family assistance, conflict mediation, civilian crisis intervention, and funds to compensate individuals and families who have experienced racism and other forms of discrimination. This new vision would also develop sites offering paid peer counseling, treatment programs, legal services & case management to improve housing, health care, employment opportunities, immigration advocacy & public benefits.

 

This would include enacting a Civil Life Corps to work with communities to help resolve day-to-day programs and address community needs including access to quality transportation, housing, voting rights, environmental equity & conservation. It would also involve creating civilian response teams who are trained in first aid, car mechanics, and de-escalation & conflict resolution to respond to traffic safety incidents. This plan can help create real employment opportunities to uplift neighborhoods across Rochester and puts the control exactly where it should be: in the community.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

The City of Rochester must implement stronger snow removal policies. With such snow-intensive winters, whole City blocks can be rendered inaccessible to frail older adults and people with mobility disabilities. It can also pose a tremendous a risk of injury due to falls. When elected, I will fight to make sure that we have comprehensive snow removal policies in all neighborhoods that ensure accessibility throughout the Fall and Winter months.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Traffic-related deaths and injuries are not an inevitability, but are tied to planning and policy. I support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, including lowered speed limits, pedestrian zones, barriers that separate cars from bikes, and other measures. In addition, to re-imagine transportation & traffic safety, I support the use of civilian response teams who are trained in first aid, car mechanics, de-escalation & conflict resolution. I fully support community input and influence in determining appropriate policies needed to improve traffic safety in our neighborhoods. This includes consulting and soliciting input from neighborhood organizations, tenant unions, individuals & families, and faith communities.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

To make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities, I support complete streets, led by community design, that are accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders and motorists. These may include bike lanes, roundabouts, improved, comfortable & convenient transportation stops, median green spaces, street art, and other features.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I fully support the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations. I believe that we are all the experts of our own experience. By listening to folks directly affected by these decisions, we will ensure that public policies align with community needs.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

I am a strong proponent of transitioning funds away from policing and into community-based services and infrastructure, which includes investing in alternative modes of transportation such as bike infrastructure.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

We have a long way to go before we achieve equitable, reliable, and sustainable transportation in this city, but if we continue to organize and work together towards real solutions with an intersectional mindset then we can achieve the kinds of changes that we all know our community needs and deserves. If you support this agenda, or have any input on how we can improve our positions regarding transportation here in Rochester, please visit Peoplesslateroc.com and get connected with our campaign.

Miguel Melendez

Candidate Email: melendezforcouncil@gmail.com

Website: www.melendezforcouncil.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

There are a few… First, I believe our public transportation system is still challenging. I know that we are in the process of making changes but it still takes too long to travel in this City with public transit. I also believe that our communities lack public transit amenities such as street furniture and bus shelters. Over time, we have removed more and more of these features instead of repairing/replacing them. I also believe we have to increase our active bike lanes and “sharrows.” We have come a long way since that time and I believe the work of that committee helped set the stage for increasing access in Rochester. Since joining council, I have helped improve the bicycle boulevards efforts and sought increased wayfinding, something I will continue to advocate for as a sitting councilmember. We still have a lot of work to do. I think dedicated bike lanes and increased biking infrastructure are great next steps and hopefully the East Main Street project will be a great example of what we can do as we approve large road reconstruction projects. I also believe we have to improve walkability in our communities as part of the Roc 2034 comp plan. We need to couple our placemaking strategies with our transportation efforts to ensure people have access to new destinations.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

I think it helps create a sense of community. Everything is different in a neighborhood when you have neighbors walking instead of driving past each other. I have seen this benefit with the opening of the international plaza, something that is near and dear to my heart as part of my work in the El Camino neighborhood at Ibero. In the neighborhood vision plan, residents were clear; they wanted a neighborhood that had destinations, walkability, and where they could recirculate their dollar. Creating destinations AND making those destinations accessible are both important. I worked with residents to apply for and implement a “Complete Streets Makeover” project on North Clinton Avenue. Through that project, we painted two crosswalks, bump-outs, a ramp for accessibility, and public art across North Clinton Avenue to the International Plaza site (before it was built) to demonstrate the vision of neighbors in the area. While we certainly wanted to do more with the project (such as add a temporary median on North Clinton Avenue), we have advocated for the city to add permanent crosswalks in the future. So the benefits from my perspective are improved quality of life, improved health, improved safety, cost savings for the resident and reduced negative impact on climate change.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

City government can improve transit by improving street amenities, advocating for the creation of more East/West bus routes (some of which is occurring in Reimagine RTS, such as the Upper Falls BLVD route), continuing to develop street infrastructure (dedicated bike lanes, bike lanes, sharrows, wayfinding, etc.), developing more transit options (PACE bikes, increased bus route frequency, etc.) and maintaining an affordable system for the public by investing in public transit, as needed and appropriate.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

I believe, wholeheartedly, there is an opportunity to bring some of the jobs our citizens take closer to home. For example, we have learned so much during the pandemic and working remotely is now a way of life. While not everyone has access to technology, we have access to vacant warehouse and old manufacturing spaces all across the city in our urban neighborhoods that could be repurposed. I do not understand why we need to have our citizens take two buses to work at a call center in Henrietta when people could work at a call center up the street. With that being said, let me answer the question. What I have said in my other responses rings true here. I also think we can encourage employers to help with incentives for employees. Major employers should be able to invest some resources in transportation. Training and placement programs like YAMTEP have figured out how to provide transportation to clients to employment opportunities. Coming out of the pandemic, I think rideshare/carpool options should be considered.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

With the transit center being so close to City Hall, I think there are great opportunities for City employees to reduce their carbon footprint. However, there are many jobs do require constant transportation in the field (such as inspectors) where it would be hard to find an alternative. As a councilmember, I believe the best way to encourage and incentivize residents is to improve the amenities. If we can continue to invest resources to create a more robust system where citizens see themselves utilizing alternative transportation methods.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I started my career riding a bus to and from work. I did not start driving until a year into my professional career. I drive now out of necessity and a packed calendar. However, I certainly would be willing to push myself utilize the bus more often, particularly to City Hall.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I believe in connecting all the broken links in our trail systems. I will support existing bridges, advocate for the running track bridge to be completed, continue to invest in bike blvds and support the advancement of CAMP. I have been and will continue to do these things. As part of the Capital improvement plan for the City, many of these issues are in the current 5-year plan. I also believe that there is more opportunity with the American Rescue Plan to support infrastructure projects, we are still awaiting for guidance from the federal government. So, this is on the radar of the current administration and I believe current councilmembers do see the value in these efforts. What we have to do is bring transportation infrastructure to more of the side streets. I will continue to work on all of these things as a sitting councilmember and hope to do more to improve infrastructure over the next several years.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I would incentivize repurposing existing infrastructure to create more economic activity in city neighborhoods. I believe that ultimately we have to find new and innovative ways to keep more dollars in our community and recirculate those resources as often as possible. I feel we have too many chain businesses interested in locating on our commercial corridors (family dollar stores being a prime example) that put very little back into our neighborhoods. Vacant buildings are assets and we have to find ways to incentivize reinvestment in infrastructure to private owners. I also believe we have many jobs in our region but there is a disconnect. I will work to help fix the community to opportunity pipeline, so that inner city residents are aware and connected to available options. I believe the office of community wealth building under the Mayor’s office can be a tremendous asset in this space.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I think the snow removal policy is decent but we need to improve in two areas. First, I would like to see better clearance for ADA ramps/cross walks and at bus stops/bus shelters. Too often we see people riding or walking in the street because of this issue. Second, I also believe the City should consider snow removal on sidewalks for residential streets. How we achieve this might be a challenge. I know it is the responsibility of the resident to remove snow in front of their homes, but often, people neglect that part of the responsibility. I think a policy that targets snow removal during major storms (i.e., maybe over 10 inches of snowfall?) should be considered, at a minimum. This could be similar to our high grass & weed policy.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

I believe we should lower the speed limit on residential streets to 25 mph. I have been part of the drive 2 be better planning efforts and signed onto various advocacy letters/efforts to reduce the speed limit in the city of Rochester. I also believe we should invest more in traffic calming infrastructure such as bump-outs, tree plantings, raised crosswalks, painted crosswalks, and speed bumps. I understand there is a limit to some of these strategies but traffic speeds in a neighborhood certainly impact quality of life. It impacts play in neighborhoods too, as parents often site speeding cars as one of the reasons they do not allow their children to play outside. I do believe traffic deaths are preventable.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

1.) Lowering the speed limit on residential streets (25 mph)
2.) Increasing road infrastructure such as bump-outs and exploring more road diets on major arterial streets.
3.) Plant more trees in tree lawns (proven to slow traffic)
4.) Increase use of protective bike lanes as a future strategy
There are many other suggestions in other answers that I wont repeat.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

I would be. I have been part of such efforts at community tables, but institutionalizing the conversation in government makes sense. I also know that in addition to the City, GTC and others have a say and sway in the process. We have to figure out how to make these things work together.

One of the issues you will always have to contend with is businesses and “their” parking. We have to find more ways to engage business owners in these discussions too, so they can understand the long-term value of the paradigm shift.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes. I have supported various biking infrastructure projects in the past 6 months on council. I was part of the bike master planning process in a limited way as part of my work with Healthi kids. I fully support the plan.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

I am accessible as a councilmember. Reach out. Include me. Invite me. If I can attend meetings or be helpful, I want to be. I know I have only been on council for 7 months but I feel I have already contributed greatly to these conversations at city hall and have a great relationship with PPW chair.

Miquel A. Powell

Candidate Email: miquelpowell@yahoo.com

Website: www.facebook.com/Miquel-Powell-BSW-for-City-Council-Rochester-NY-350270019114691

 

After several follow-up attempts, we did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

Jasmin Reggler

Candidate Email: Jasmin@jasminforjustice.com

Website: www.jasminforjustice.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges are timely and reliable transportation options.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Walking, biking and using public transportation are options that would reduce fossil fuel emissions in our city. Additionally, residents who reduce their car usage experience greater community contact and engagement while also getting more exercise.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

To support public transit and transportation options, the City government can approve funding increases for the RTS to operate more efficiently. City government can also increase the amount of bike lanes as well as maintain the current bike route system. Currently in Rochester there are many community organizations that provide bikes free of charge to residents. The City might collaborate with these organizations to support the efforts of providing bikes free of charge.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

As a resident without a personal vehicle, by choice, I have experienced first-hand the inadequacies of our public transportation options. Often the RTS runs late or misses stops altogether—this is unacceptable. I understand RTS is rolling out new routes and time standards this year and I will wait to comment any further until the changes have taken place. Consistency, reliability and abundant route options are the most important considerations here.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

Within the City network I would encourage employees to carpool by creating a ride-share network. This online option would allow employees to offer/accept rides that were posted. In addition to offering incentives to riding public transportation, such as drastically reduced bus pass rates. More bike parking options would be needed to ensure employees had parking access.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

As a resident without a personal vehicle, I will lead the community by example. I will share my experiences and encourage others to do the same. I would be willing to commute to City Hall to raise awareness of our collective carbon footprint.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I will support the transportation vision of Rochester 2034 by participating in community feedback sessions. As a community member I will be using my voice to represent and advocate for greater and more equitable transportation options for Rochester residents.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

With the legalization of cannabis in NY there will be a revitalization of opportunities in that field. I’d be sure to advocate for those jobs staying in the city core for our residents–creating job creation and sustained employment opportunities right in Rochester.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

Clear sidewalks and bus stops are a must in our city. Due to the harsh winters, this must be made a priority.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

I am comfortable with where the speed limits are at and would work in other area to reduce our carbon footprint.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Improved spacing and visibility of bike lanes.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes, absolutely. Currently community groups are established and I will work alongside folks who are already working on these issues.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes, I would support funding for the infrastructure to be improved. Not only is biking important to achieving our goals of a reduced carbon footprint, but the activity itself is a great benefit for quality of life.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

I am a resident who does not own a personal vehicle. I believe more Rochester residents would feel comfortable to use biking, public transportation, car-pooling if they felt supported by the infrastructure. We can do this!

Victor Sanchez

Candidate Email: info@votevictorsanchez.com

Website: www.votevictorsanchez.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester has a deep-rooted car culture which has unfortunately shaped the way we develop our City and the policies we have set in place. Shifting that culture and undoing the care-centric infrastructure we have developed, is a huge challenge and it will require community support, strategic planning, and dedicated funding. We are lacking the public transit system that is convenient and street/road systems that are people-focused making it easy to walk and bike as a way to get around.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Moving away from relying on cars as a way of travel will have great benefits on the environment as well as community and personal health. A majority of the carbon emissions come from vehicles and reducing the amount of cars on the road will only support the work that needs to be done to achieve cleaner air and combat climate change, both of which have a negative impact on the health of our communities. Reducing vehicles on the road would also create safer streets, and reduce the risk of vehicular accidents and maybe even shift the way neighbors interact and utilize the streets to do that.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

The systemic racism that has segregatedcommunities of color that have gone undeveloped and forgotten needs to be undone.The communities impacted need to be brought into the conversation. The citygovernment needs to work with other elected officials at all levels ofgovernment to continue and grow the support of our transit system and work withRTS to ensure that stops and routes are in all communities, especially thosethat rely on it most. We need to prioritize alternative modes oftranspiration, such as rideshare programs. We also need to shift ourdevelopment to assure our residents can get to resources and serviceswithin a short commute accessible by walking or cycling.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

The city needs to work with businesses, other municipalities, and RTS to assure that there are routes that go to where the jobs are. The city also needs to improve the development of businesses within areas of the city and work to develop business in a strategic approach where transit lines exist. We also need to assure that there is the infrastructure to support other forms of transportation like walking and cycling.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

The main step to encourage anyone to use other modes of transportation is to assure other methods are convenient. The city needs to work with RTS to assure routes are accessible and frequent. The City also needs to make sure that any rideshare programs are easy to use for residents to get to their needed jobs. The city government should lead by example and incentive city employees to use public transportation by providing vouchers or bus passes. The city government also has the power to set a strategic plan to develop any new businesses on transit lines or setting codes prioritizing bike storage over parking in new development.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I look forward to being able to take the bus to City Hall, I wish it was convenient and accessible to take public transit to my day job now. I will continue and do more to support events like Roc Transit Day, and cycling events as well as promote more when I use modes of transit that aren’t my car.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

As someone that was very involved with gathering input for the 2034 Plan, I am excited for the opportunity to support and facilitate the implantation of this plan. A majority of my conversations revolved around increasing walkability and multi-model transportation; I will assure that any remodeling and development of streets are done with this vision in mind and done in a way that highlights safety and transportation choice.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

We have a great opportunity to prioritize and encourage the creation of small businesses through, zoning and eliminate barriers such as minimum square footage, parking requirements which can hinder someone from starting a business. We need to invest in our people encourage entrepreneurial ship through providing support, space, and resources. We have a mixture of industrial skills and innovative technical talent from our universities and industrial past. We need to be creative in finding innovative ways to bring those things together in two the new era.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

I am not satisfied with our existing work, it never feels like there is sufficient sidewalk snow removal, and don’t see much done when it comes to bike lanes or bus stops. I know resources and funding for this work are a challenge. We need to prioritize streets and transit as a matter of safety and equity and having dedicated employees to maintain our streets would be a priority of mine.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes, I fully support a “Vision Zero” style approach including reducing speeds. I have been very appreciative and supportive of some of the innovative ways to achieve this vision through the complete street work that has been going on. I do believe reducing the use of cars and car culture in Rochester is the best way to achieve this vision.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

We need to continue and increase our investment in biking infrastructure. I don’t agree that painted lines for bikes is enough and want to see dedicated bike lanes that are raised or have some kind of barrier from car traffic.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes, this would be a great opportunity to partner with organizations like Reconnect and the Cycling Alliance to assure those that have been strong advocates are part of the process. It will be important that there is true empowerment of the committee and not just symbolic

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes, dedicated budget and resources are important to achieve several of the goals in the previous questions.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

We need to follow our plan and prioritizes walkability and multimodal transportation. We need to change our culture from being car-focused, we need to shift the mindset of having the need of people driving to the front door of their destination.

Kim Smith

Candidate Email: thepeoplesslate@gmail.com

Website: www.peoplesslateroc.com/

 

After several follow-up attempts, we did not receive a response from this candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Alex White

Candidate Email: AlexWhiteforRochester@gmail.com

Website: www.AlexWhiteforRochester.org

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

Rochester, like most American Cities has been built around the car culture. We allowed cars to destroy public transportation systems and gave it primacy over any methods of transportation that remained. Yet the future does not belong to cars and even the present is becoming filled with other diverse transportation options. So the problem of how to create a modern transportation system that moves people effectively with both public transit and wide variety of private options including, walking, bikes, scooters, skateboards, wheelchairs, as well as cars, is the fore most problem facing our city. Besides this Rochester has poorly invested in public infrastructure which has forced a hub and spoke bus system which is inefficient in every way and serves the public poorly. Finally we have almost no fixed route infrastructure aging bridges, and over built road system.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Abandoning cars has huge health benefits to a community. Besides the health value to an individual of any form of active transport, the Covid crisis has shown getting out of cars will rapidly improve the air quality. There has long been an understanding of the link between air pollution and asthma (https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/links-between-air-pollution-and-childhood-asthma), but there also seems to be a link to heart disease (https://www.epa.gov/sciencematters/linking-air-pollution-and-heart-disease) and even cancer and dementia. An improvement in air quality would greatly improve the health of all the citizens and would also help fight global climate change which is straining the planets ability to support large mammals of all types including humans.

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

The city has little power to change the RGRTA policy but it should be working with government officials at all levels to fight for additional transportation dollars to start building the fixed route transportation system which will someday have to replace personal use vehicles. Further it can pressure the county and RGRTA to try to improve its systems. It can also do some bus stop improvements like benches, shade, and snow shoveling of bus stops to make them more convenient for the users. Finally it can use small measures to encourage its own workers to use public transit.

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

Of course the key to this is improving the public transit system but the city should also have ride share connections opportunities on their web page. They also need to get the bike share program to reach more at need neighborhoods. Of course transportation is one of the many facilitators that allow people improve their employment but there are others that the city can use to improve employment. Many employers are already on public transit lines but the jobs require training, degrees, or certification like Certified Nursing Assistant programs. The city needs to do more to make scholarship or training opportunities available for people so they can access jobs like this which would lift people out of poverty and are easily accessible to the population that most needs it.

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I have long had a number of little things I think would improve the city and one is to eliminate free parking for employees. Instead the city should offer reduced rate or free bus passes, expanded bicycle lock up, storage and repair facilities, and work with RGRTA to have bus routes be more convenient for city services and their employees.

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I find myself frequently having to go downtown and I frequently bike or walk there from my house. For years I have been biking or walking to work at my business on Monroe Ave. As a business owner I have encouraged others to try to get bike rakes near their businesses. I fully intend to actively transport to city hall as often as I can and will encourage others to do the same.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

Guiding transportation principles seem to settle on two transportation ideas walk ability and multi-modal transportation. Both principles I believe in. I hope to bring this to city council so that every project in the city can further these ideas. Too often we develop solely to increase density without a focus on creating walk ability and provide for other transportation. Even though we have developed many trails and even a alternative bike routes these seem to be very secondary to other concerns in the city and I hope to change this.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

For years the city has been subsidizing housing in the city core on the belief that that would create a more vibrant city center but that has failed to happen and is unlikely to work as the density needed for even a grocery store is unlikely to ever be reached in the city center. Further despite billions of investment there have been few full time jobs created. Instead of investing in buildings the city needs to invest in people, incubators and space designed for the 21st century. Further the zoning code needs to be modernized to fully recognize home businesses, urban agriculture, work from home spaces, and garage start ups. Of course there is also the opportunity to create jobs through aging in place and housing for persons with disabilities. As such all new construction should be meet the highest standards for persons with disabilities.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

No we are currently doing a worse job at sidewalk cleaning than we did 100+ years ago. Our plows are in many cases not the right tools for this and contracting it out has resulted in less plowing at higher costs. We can not rely upon residents to shovel as even one failure to do in a block renders the whole block impassable. So what we need is more wire brush cleaners, more frequent routes, and a taking this task back in house so we can prioritize it to the routes that most need it. Finally we need to have people who’s only job is cleaning curb cuts and bus stops.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Ideally I support zero cars, the regained parking space alone makes this a great idea but that is unlikely to happen. I feel that we need to do a better job of focused traffic calming to where it is important. After all some of these tactics actually make other active transportation methods more difficult or dangerous, such as narrowing streets which then interrupts bike routes. Yet we need to use a variety of tools to reduce speeds near parks, schools, and other places that children play.

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

I like the concept of one way streets with a special lane for non motorized transportation but this is unlikely to happen. What is doable and something I really want to do is get bike boxes at all intersections that have a bike lane at any part of the intersection.

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes I would and would work to do this.

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

We need it, if for nothing else for maintenance of the infrastructure. Far too often the striping is worn off or the chevrons no longer visible. Further we need to have more information on signs and PSA’s to inform the public how alternatives to cars should work.

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

Patricia Williams-McGahee

Candidate Email: patricia4citycouncil@gmail.com

 

What are Rochester’s greatest transportation challenges?

1. Carbon Emissions-need for cleaner energy alternatives regarding transportation 2. Access to more affordable transportation for low income customers. 3. Need for more frequency in access to transportation in certain areas – only available during certain limited hours.

 

What are the top benefits our community would see by getting residents out of their cars and experiencing other modes of travel?

Decreased Pollution:Reduction of our Carbon footprint on the community-world. Help decrease cancers, respiratory aliments and various other poisonous toxin related conditions & diseases. If folks walked and/or bicycled more it would be a positive healthy lifestyle improvement , It would help reduce the community’s increasing obesity (ie. Cycling to work & school)

 

What do you think City government can do to support public transit and create more equitable transportation options, especially in communities of color?

Partner with Banks and other corporate businesses to push an initiative to help fund clean energy transportation alternatives ( ie. electric buses & cars, and even a faster, cleaner & energy efficient skyway development project etc…)

 

What steps can the City take to improve accessibility to jobs for the 26% of Rochester residents who do not own or have access to a personal vehicle?

Provide free broad ban which could aid many people in working from home. Give incentives to businesses to provide corporate buses, vans and/or cars to transport their employees back and forth to work. Provide City supported ride shares etc… .

 

What steps will you take to encourage/incentivize residents (especially City employees) to commute using transportation options other than single occupant vehicles (walk/bike/bus/carpool/etc.)?

I will promote a Public Service Add Campaign Communicating this. I would pitch my idea to businesses to participate in providing transportation to their employees (they could pick up a bus or van of employees in energy efficient vehicles.)

 

How will you lead the community in reducing our transportation carbon footprint? Do you or would you be willing to take the bus, bike or walk to City Hall?

I would ride my bike when the weather permits. I also plan on purchasing an an electric automobile.

 

How specifically will you support the transportation vision outlined in Rochester 2034?

I will assist in furthering legislation to approve & allocate funds and partner with businesses and local residents to get it done.

 

What land use and economic development policies would you pursue to encourage job creation and development to remain in the city core, and better connect people in the city to employment opportunities?

I would champion policy that utilized empty lots and other City owned property in order to increase home construction and home ownership (creating jobs & a road to independence, community pride and personal wealth). I would champion policy and legislation to build a state of the art performing arts center to showcase our very gifted music & the arts community while creating jobs and attracting local art lovers, national and international big named-headliner performers, top investors and people from other areas to relocate and patron the performing arts center, our local restaurants and other businesses, all, which will-generate revenue, greater human capital and greater employment opportunities.

 

Are you satisfied with our current sidewalk and bus stop snow removal policies? What opportunities for improvement do you see?

The snow removal side walk, street & bus stop policies need to improve. The snow trucks block pile up snow in front of driveway hindering cars from exiting after a resident or businesses owner has shoveled. Bus stops are not regularly cleared well, causing bus riders to have to stand in the street, placing themselves in danger.

 

Do you support a “Vision Zero” style approach to road safety, which includes lowered speed limits and other traffic calming practices and policies?

Yes. I am in great support in doing whatever is necessary to stop any traffic fatality. The name is odd though I would change it!

 

What specific actions do you suggest to make Rochester safer for pedestrians and bicyclists of all ages and abilities?

Crack down on speed, alcohol and drug use while driving, auto theft, drag racing and confiscate mopeds, ATVs and other non-licensed vehicles driving illegally on the road. A park for such personal small vehicles (like the skate park) should be created. I would champion the creation of such a park

 

Would you favor the establishment of a bike/pedestrian advisory committee with the power to review road projects and make recommendations?

Yes

 

Rochester recently received a renewal of its “Bronze” level award as a bike-friendly community. One of the key steps to receiving “Silver” status is a dedicated budget for implementing our Bike Master Plan. Would you support a line item in the budget devoted to bike infrastructure?

Yes

 

Are there any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share about transportation and mobility in Rochester?

No

Reconnect Rochester would like to thank all of the candidates (and their teams) for the time and effort they’ve dedicated to our community, and for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to working with them very soon.